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Ryan Feltner makes home-run-stricken MLB debut

Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies, Adam Duvall and Travis d’Arnaud gave the right-hander a harsh big league welcome

33,957 people came to watch 25-year-old Ryan Feltner on Sunday afternoon, a crowd 5 12 times larger than the max seating capacity of Double-A Hartford’s Dunkin’ Donuts Park. Feltner’s MLB debut was no shining moment on paper, a 2 23 inning, six-earned-run showing, but the long-awaited debut is at least behind him.

Now comes the push to make the big leagues normal.

“My main focus [on Sunday] was just to pound the zone and be aggressive in the zone,” Feltner said after the game. “The action on my stuff wasn’t totally there, but there was a lot of positives to come out of it.”

The instant transition from Hartford to Denver came without a Triple-A primer in Albuquerque’s elevation. Denver is 5,221 feet higher than Feltner’s last home ballpark in Hartford, and an 87-degree Sunday afternoon was prime conditions for the Atlanta Braves to give him a sub-optimal arrival.

Three home runs in 2 23 innings

Feltner started his day off with a 91.6 MPH fastball to Ozzie Albies down the middle of the plate, one of Feltner’s slower fastballs of the day. There was no ‘get ahead early’ moment out of the chute, as Albies cashed in a solo homer to right field.

Feltner’s name was added to the short list of arms to give up a home run on their first career pitch.

Five of his six runs allowed came by way of the longball. Adam Duvall came to the plate with two runners on in the fifth and sent a hanging 76-mph curveball into the center field bleachers. An out would have capped off three innings of two-run ball for Feltner.

Damage would surmount in the immediate aftermath, as another 2-2 count turned sour. Travis d’Arnaud placed a 93-mph heater into the Rockies bullpen, and Feltner’s day was over.

Final line: 2 23 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 2 BB (+1 HBP). 61 pitches.

Raw stuff

Feltner worked with a fastball/slider/curveball mix. Bud Black spoke further about Feltner’s pitches: “He has a good changeup. It’s one of his better pitches and I don’t know if he threw one today.”

Ryan Feltner - MLB Debut (Sept. 5, 2021)

Pitch # % MPH - Average MPH - Max Spin (RPM) - Average
Pitch # % MPH - Average MPH - Max Spin (RPM) - Average
4-Seam Fastball 26 43% 92.4 93.7 2248
Slider 25 41% 81.1 84.2 2502
Curveball 8 13% 76.1 77.2 2399
Changeup 1 2% 80.9 80.9 1531
Cutter 1 2% 90.6 90.6 2371
Courtesy of Baseball Savant

A handful of missed spots were decisive in Feltner’s debut, and the hanging breaker to Duvall suggested a feel for his curveball was not completely intact.

Feltner managed a slider CSW% (called strikes plus whiffs) of 36%, however, which is well above the league average of around 27. It suggests he will favor that pitch in Denver, or at the very least, favor it more than his curveball in two-strike counts.

Feltner often worked up in the zone with his fastball on Sunday, sometimes a tough task with a relatively average RPM/MPH figure. It suggests his upstairs fastballs today were more on missed release points instead of looking for a hopeful chase, as none of his heaters above the zone resulted in a swing.

The Situation

In the postgame conference, Black said it was great to put both Feltner and Julian Fernández (a reliever also making his debut today) in a game against a tough lineup with pennant aspirations. Atlanta is now holding a two-game lead over the Phillies in the NL East, and the challenge was presented for each young arm.

“I can’t wait for my next bullpen,” said Feltner. “Getting back on the mound and getting back to work is the first thing on my mind right now.”

Feltner’s debut also came at Coors Field and not a more pitcher-friendly ballpark. The last Rockies starter to make the Double-A-to-MLB jump was Antonio Senzatela, a pitcher that began the year with the Rockies for his debut in 2017. His debut was on the road, as was his third career start, and allowed five earned runs in his first three outings (19 IP).