Braves: Different year, same Sean Newcomb

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The Braves were able to cruise to a blowout victory on Sunday Night Baseball against the Mets in their rubber match, but it wasn’t all positive for Atlanta, who still have a ton of questions regarding their rotation. Newcomb, who was making his first start since April 13th of last year, faced off with Rick Porcello, and nothing about the 6’5″ lefties outing should give Brian Snitker any confidence moving forward.

In short, Newcomb was all over the place. He hit two batters in the first inning before getting behind 3-0 to Yoenis Cespedes, and if Cespedes had not swung at a pitch in his eyes, he would have walked the bases loaded, leading to a ton of trouble.

In the second inning, Newcomb was able to get two quick outs, but as he does way too often, he walked the eighth batter in the lineup without offering much of a fight and then surrendered a double to Brandon Nimmo to give the Mets their first run of the game. Thankfully, the Braves were able to break the game open in the top of the third, scoring five runs. But while you’d think that might make life a little easier for Newcomb, he continued to struggle with his command.

Again, after getting two quick outs, he walked Yoenis Cespedes and surrendered a single to Michael Conforto, which led to a rare mound visit from Brian Snitker, and the Braves manager had some jokes for us after the game.

Luckily, Snitker’s visit paid off, and Newcomb was able to prevent a run from scoring after forcing J.D. Davis to ground out to Dansby Swanson. However, the unnecessary extra work he brings on himself because of his lack of control is all too reminiscent of last year, which ended in Newcomb becoming a full-time reliever after just three starts.

Newk’s night would end in the fourth following a double from Tomas Nido with one out. His line of 3.1 innings and just one earned run allowed doesn’t look all that bad, but he was terribly inefficient, throwing 82 pitches, and it’s just a matter of time before those free passes start to haunt him.

Typically, I wouldn’t overreact after just one start, especially since this is Newk’s first real competition in four months. However, Sunday night, it was all of the same problems, just a different year. Newcomb was able to harness his control as a reliever last season, and he deserves a couple of more outings to prove himself — the Braves also don’t have a ton of high-quality options to replace him with after Cole Hamels was added to the 45-day IL. But if Newk doesn’t improve over the next couple of starts, Atlanta will have to give the likes of Jhoulys Chacin, Touki Toussaint, and possibly even Tucker Davidson an opportunity in the rotation, moving Newcomb back to the bullpen.

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