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Braves Clinch NL East With Performance That Should Earn Mike Foltynewicz a Playoff Rotation Spot

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 11:  Mike Foltynewicz #26 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in the first inning of an MLB game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at SunTrust Park on June 11, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Pirates v Atlanta Braves | Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves entered this evening's series opener with the San Francisco Giants at SunTrust Park with one goal: clinching their second straight division title. And when the game went final, the dream had been achieved: the 2019 NL East title belongs to the East Cobb boys.

Home runs from Ronald Acuña and Brian McCann provided more than enough offense for this team to take care of business against Bruce Bochy's team, but the real story here has to be Mike Foltynewicz. The 2018 All-Star, who spent so much of the current season struggling through ailments and inconsistencies, has finally found his form. And tonight's win may have been his most dominant outing of the year.

At this point, it's hard to envision a Braves pitching rotation for the upcoming playoffs that doesn't include Folty.

To be sure, Brian Snitker has a tough decision to make. Mike Soroka, Dallas Keuchel, and Julio Teheran are locks to start games in the postseason, but no clear fourth option emerged quite as clearly between Foltynewicz and Max Fried.

Folty started the season 1-5. Now, he's 8-5 and hasn't lost since June 6. The Braves have won his last 12 starts in a row, and he's seen his ERA drop just over an entire run over that span. Fried leads this team with 16 wins and 166 strikeouts, but he's lost his last two starts. He'll be a valuable asset for this team come playoff time, but it might just make a little more sense to let him play a long bullpen role.

It's a tough call for Snit to make, but Foltynewicz is peaking at the perfect time. Just give the man the ball.