Braves: Is This Newk A Dud?

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The most frustrating pitcher, if you ask Braves Country, not named Julio Teheran is Sean Newcomb. Many regard the trade that netted Newcomb to be a glaring loss. In 2016, the Braves shipped Andrelton Simmons to the Angels for Erick Aybar and a left-handed prospect named Sean Newcomb. Braves Country was up in arms about losing Simmons, who has turned into an above average bat along with being the best defensive shortstop in the game. The trade being a success hinged on the development of Sean Newcomb, who was just demoted to AAA.

The 26-year-old southpaw is entering his third Major League season as a starter, but there have been concerns that have yet to be remedied. The issue that plagued Newcomb throughout the minors and was said to be his downfall at the major league level is his command. Throughout four minor league seasons, Newcomb averaged 3.7, 5.0, 4.6, and 5.2 walks per nine innings pitched (BB/9). Allowing that many free base runners does not provide much room for error.

The lefty flamethrower has not fixed the problem in Atlanta. Over three seasons, albeit a few starts into 2019, Newcomb has averaged 5.1, 4.4, and 5.8 walks per nine innings pitched. This lack of consistency in his mechanics has forced the Braves to demote their supposed #2 pitcher to AAA Gwinnett. However, it may not be time to give up on Sean just yet.

Newk is still young at 26 years old. He also has eye-popping stuff that includes a 95 MPH fastball and a curveball that falls off the table. Those kinds of arms don’t grow on trees.  While the walks are high, he sports a 9.7 and 8.8 K/9 innings pitched in 2017 and 2018. The 6’5” lefty has shown the ability to be an ace of the staff, but he is an all or nothing pitcher. He can walk six batters in a start and only pitch four innings, and then strike out eleven batters over seven innings of two-hit baseball. Newcomb has all-star potential if he can figure it out. That being said, he is quickly running out of time.

The Braves have seven arms that are major-league ready or on the cusp of being so. They will have a couple more once Mike Soroka and Mike Foltynewicz are fully healthy, which could be as early as this week. Then there is another wave of starting pitchers that will be ready for next season. If Newk cannot figure it out this year, he’s an outstanding bet to be traded before the beginning of the 2020 season.

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