A large part of the team’s recent success has been the improvement in the starting pitching of late. In particular the emergence of Sean Newcomb, who has recorded a quality start in all of his three major league starts coming in to Tuesday. The impressive start has not led to any wins though, as the Braves powerful lineup seems to take the night off when he is on the mound.
But Tuesday night’s series opener with the lowly Padres, a team the Braves swept earlier in the season, looked like the perfect opportunity to change all that. And once again, Newcomb came out with some nasty stuff.
The 24-year old lefty had complete control of the plate, using both sides to keep the Padres hitters off balance. It also helps when you can switch it up between a 95 mph fastball and a 75 mph curveball with a foot of break. Newcomb has shown off his incredible breaking ball throughout his early career in the majors. He goes to it early and often, can throw it in any count and most importantly throw it for strikes.
The curveball had the Padres looking silly for much of the game, but it was his fastball command that was so impressive in this one. He was able to hit the corner on both sides of the plate whenever he wanted. 3-1 count, runner on second, nobody out, no problem, here is 95 on the black. San Diego had no chance with the way Newcomb was controlling his pitches, as he went six scoreless with eight strikeouts.
Finally the Braves were able to give Newcomb a little run support, albeit, it still was not their regular production. Johan Carmargo shot one into the left-center field gap, that would have been gone in probably every other ballpark, but instead hit high off the wall at Petco Park and scored both Dansby Swanson and Tyler Flowers. The Braves tacked on a run in the eighth thanks to some poor fielding by the Padres.
The bullpen closed the door, even though Jim Johnson might have had Newcomb sweating there at the end. But Johnson’s third strike out of the inning ended the ball game sending the Braves home happy and Sean Newcomb home a major league winner.
The Braves have now won five of six and eight of their last ten. It has been an impressive run of form for a team that was predicted by most to be one of the worst in baseball. They are far from that, and with one of the most dangerous offenses in the league preparing for a Freddie Freeman comeback, Atlanta could be a team on the verge of a surge in the National League. The starting pitching will have to become more consistent, but with young guys like Sean Newcomb beginning to step up, the future looks bright for this organization.