We knew this was going to be a make or break season for Sean Newcomb coming into 2019. The Braves had a bevy of prospects knocking at the door, and the southpaw who Atlanta acquired for Anderlton Simmons had yet to figure out how to throw strikes – something had to give. Through the first month, it has been Sean Newcomb, who was forced back down to AAA for the first time since 2017.
His three starts with Atlanta consisted of only 12.1 innings pitched, mostly because of poor control that led to long counts and way too many walks. Newcomb had eight free passes compared to five strikeouts before being sent down and has since made three more starts with the Stripers.
The first outing was very Newcomb-esque. He threw 96 pitches in 5.2 innings, allowing two earned runs and walking four. Then the former first-round pick did something unheard of over his career. Newk threw seven innings of walkless baseball in his second start, keeping his pitch count under 90. If that wasn’t enough to get the Braves’ faithful hopeful again, Monday’s performance might do the trick.
Newcomb followed up his walkless outing with another WALKLESS OUTING. Sarcasm is somewhat intended, but this is borderline mindblowing for a player who was once one of the Braves top prospects. To put this in perspective, Newk only had one MLB start with zero walks in about two full seasons. In his professional career dating back to 2015, he’s only done it four times. Now, it’s happened twice in a row.
The Massachusetts native’s talent has never been questioned. The only red flag has been his control. Often it takes longer for lefties to get their mechanics down. Hopefully, this is a sign that his trip back down to AAA is paying off. If so, the Braves could be looking at one of the most devastating rotations in the National League by season’s end.
Mike Soroka has burst back onto the scene like a potential frontline starter; Mike Foltynewicz is finally healthy and on the bump in Atlanta, and Max Fried might be the ace of the staff. That’s what Newcomb can be when throwing strikes – another Max Fried-type lefty at the top of a rotation. He has a deceptive delivery, a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, and a curve that falls off the table. It’s all about mechanics for Newk, and it appears he’s figuring something out in Gwinnett.