Bartolo Colon’s performance and his eventual injury may have forced the Braves to bring up one of their young arms before they ideally wanted to. With Colon set to return from his short stay on the DL, Atlanta is evaluating all their options going forward. It appears the team is headed toward a six-man rotation, but those never last for long. The Braves are going to have to make a move soon, but if there is one thing that is becoming evident every time he steps on the mound, Sean Newcomb is not going anywhere.
With Colon prolonging his return due to back stiffness, Newcomb got his third start a day early and once again did not disappoint. After laboring through the first two innings and giving up one early run, the rookie settled in and looked unhittable the rest of the game. He retired the last thirteen batters he faced, finishing with an impressive line of 6 innings, 3 hits, 1 earned run, with 3 strike outs compared to just a single walk allowed. It appeared the southpaw was on a way to his first career MLB victory, but a late Giants rally stole that away from him, even though the Braves won in walk-off fashion in the 11th inning.
Newk was the key piece Atlanta got in return when they sent Andrelton Simmons to the Angels last season. Since joining the organization, he has simply overpowered hitters in AAA ball, but his control has certainly held him back a little. He had 33 walks in just 57.2 innings pitched in Gwinnett, way too many for a pitcher of his caliber. To put that in perspective, Newcomb only allowed 45 hits over those 57+ innings. Those control issues led to him not getting the call earlier and an inflated ERA that did not give his enormous potential justice.
That has not been the case in his first three starts as a big-leaguer. Newcomb only has 7 walks in over 18 innings, leading to a 1.96 ERA. His strikeout numbers have been down, which should be expected coming into the major leagues, but he will develop into a strikeout machine as he continues to adjust. In just three starts, Newcomb already has more quality starts (3) than Bartolo Colon (2) has this entire season.
The early numbers are impressive, but that is not what should get Braves fans excited about Newcomb. As a minor leaguer, Newcomb drew comparisons to another great lefty, Jon Lester. And even though it has been a small sample size thus far, the Lester comp looks spot on. Newk can control the zone with a fastball that tops out around 96 MPH, then finish hitters off with a plethora of strikeout pitches to turn to. His off speed stuff is fantastic, featuring an outstanding, slow, curve that has been bamboozling hitters on a regular basis so far in the majors.
Check out this bad boy.
— Steve Frederick (@SportsGuyTweets) June 10, 2017
He can use different variations of that curve to keep hitters off balance, or a wicked slider that comes at hitters much faster than the curve with a quick bite at the end.
Newcomb has all the tools to be a fantastic starter in today’s MLB, and perhaps the most impressive part of his early stint in the big leagues has been his composure for such a young player. The Braves may want to give Colon another start or two to try and get things going (After all they do have $8.5 million invested in him), but between the emergence of Sean Newcomb and R.A Dickey’s return of form, it will be hard for him to re-earn a spot in the starting rotation. Somebody may be headed to the bullpen, somebody may be traded, but Sean Newcomb will be staying right where he is for a while.