The Braves are bad, real bad. Finding any sort of fantasy value here isn’t easy. Losing Andrelton Simmons is enough to keep me away from almost every Atlanta pitcher this year. It’s hard to accurately predict just how much this will impact starter’s stat lines, but I do not want to be involved with the discovery process.
Why spotlight a guy with a 5.71 ERA in 86.66 IPs last year? Because at some point in the near future, Folty is going to close and there is potential for 2016 to be that year. This is a complete flyer type pick and in most leagues he’s probably not worth drafting. We are still unsure if Atlanta even wants to use him as a closer, but if they do he could truly become a weapon. If we hear that Atlanta is committed to him starting then it’s easy to cut bait early. In a deep league or a holds league, I would give Folty a look as a late round speculative add. The potential payoff is high as he could be a high strikeout closer, albeit on an awful team.
By the numbers, Folty had a pretty poor year in a mostly starting role (15 starts out of 18 appearances). He put up a 5.71 ERA with 1.63 WHIP and 77 Ks in 86.66 IPs. The K number isn’t bad but the rest are downright awful. Digging deeper there are some semi-promising stats. Folty had a 5.05 FIP, 4.61 xFIP and a 4.3 SIERA. Not great but some signs of bad luck. Something to build on perhaps.
The silver lining here is that Folty was actually above average in the three things a pitcher can control: strikeouts, walks and home runs. The below chart (small sample size caveats apply) shows Folty’s splits for the first, second and third time through the order. Folty was much better the first time through the order which is not uncommon.
(Stats via baseball-reference)
This is important because as an RP, he’s likely to face 3-5 batters in any given outing which is when he was at his best in 2015. Over a full relief season those numbers are pretty good but not elite.
Folty is a 24 year old with a killer fastball (typically graded out as a 70-80). He averaged 95.1 mph on his 4 seamer in 2015 as a nearly full time starter. As a reliever in 2014, he averaged 96.8. As a reliever he would be allowed to unleash hell for 15 fastballs at a time and triple digits is not out of the question. He could see a rise in K% with that bump in velocity. That much velocity is hard to time when you only see the pitcher once a game.
There are two obstacles in Folty’s way: Jason Grilli and Arodys Vizcaino. Both are very capable relief pitchers but neither are locked into the closer role. Grilli is 39 and given Atlanta’s current mantra there is little doubt that if he’s healthy he will be dealt. Atlanta does have some incentive to keep him closing to increase his trade value but if he struggles out of the gate it wouldn’t surprise me if they made a change. Vizcaino might be a bigger problem. He dropped a 1.6 ERA in 2015 but that was with a 2.48 FIP and 3.5 xFIP. He walks a lot of guys and that problem figures to continue. Vizcaino has never been a pillar of health and that is where Folty could see opportunity. If Grilli struggles and Vizcaino ends up on the shelf, Folty could assume the closer role. It’s not a sure thing (hence why I would only draft him in deeper leagues) but I think there is a decent chance that Folty saves 5-10 games this year, likely assuming the closer role in July at the trade deadline.
Steamer has Folty down for a 4.16 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 0 Saves, a 21.9 K% and a 9.3 BB%. I’m going to go out on a very, very thin limb and give Folty 3.33 ERA, 1.3 WHIP, 8 Saves, 25 K% and a 7.5 BB% as a reliever.