Braves: Sean Newcomb deserves a bullpen role in 2021

newcomb 2020

After Mike Foltynewicz parted for Texas, there was a bit of a “What if?” in my mind. “What if Atlanta never traded for Tommy Milone or Robbie Erlin and let Folty give it one more go?” Regardless, I’m happy for Folty to get another opportunity. He truly deserves another chance to regain his 2017 form. Another guy that I really want to see receive another shot is Sean Newcomb — this time with the Braves.

I wrote in September about Newcomb getting a chance on the playoff roster with how well he had pitched in the postseason. With the Cole Hamels experiment being a flop, I think he could have made an impact in some capacity if he were called back up during the regular season. Like Folty, Newk had a short leash and was sent to Gwinnett’s training site after giving up 17 earned runs in 13.2 innings . Postseason numbers aside, Newcomb was brilliant out of the bullpen in Atlanta, and I think he should revisit that role in 2021 even if the Braves bring back Shane Greene or add another reliever.

A.J. Minter deserves all of the praise for his incredible bounce-back effort, and Tyler Matzek was a massive snub for comeback player of the year. Will Smith turned around a bumpy COVID plagued 2020, but Newcomb fits into what Atlanta can do — you can never have enough impact lefties in the pen. Comparing his numbers from 2019 as a starter vs. a reliever, there are some substantial differences:

2019 as a starter: 15 IP, 6 ER, .305 BA, .400 OBP, .390 SLG, .347 wOBA

2019 out of the bullpen: 53.1 IP, 8 ER, .215 BA, .291 OBP, .370 SLG, .283 wOBA

In total, Newk was just as effective against lefties as righties.

2019 v RHB: 48.2 IP, 16 ER, .230 BA, .306 OBP, .393 SLG, .297 wOBA, 7.7 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 4.39 FIP

2019 v LHB: 19.2 IP, 8 ER, .250 BA, .345 OBP, .329 SLG, .302 wOBA, 10.5 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 3.88 FIP

Newcomb was pretty well rounded in 2019, and I wouldn’t consider him a “lefty specialist”, which can be a good and bad thing. With the three batter minimum, “LOOGYs” are not as appealing as they once were. The only advanced statistics that are worth noting are what Fangraphs considers “high leverage situations”. In these spots Sean surrendered nine earned runs and walked six over 10.1 innings pitched. However, Newcomb only gave up a .200 BA with men in scoring position, but walks ballooned his wOBA to .269.

I don’t think Newk is best served as a setup man but believe he still provides a lot of value in a middle to long relief role with his ability to hold it down against left and right-handed batters. If he can cut down on the walks with limited stress, Newcomb can become an important piece to this team going forward — especially in the playoffs.


Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: