Last season, the Braves moved Sean Newcomb to the bullpen out of necessity. He was struggling in the rotation, but they also desperately needed a southpaw out of the bullpen. The experiment went well. The tall flamethrower seemed to find his control in short bursts. His strikeouts spiked, and the walks dipped significantly. He limited batters to a .215 batting average and offered the Braves that much needed left-handed arm.
It goes without saying, however, that a relief role was not what the Braves had in mind when they acquired him from Andrelton Simmons. While this is not off the table going forward, it appears the Braves will stretch out Newk… for now.
More Anthopoulos on #Braves' Sean Newcomb: "… unless there’s other trades or signings or things like that. But right now he would like an opportunity to start and it makes sense for us to at least have him stretched out in spring and then go from there.”
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) November 13, 2019
This makes a ton of sense. Max Fried is the only other lefty the Braves have on the active roster, and Newcomb has still shown a ton of upside as a starter. It also goes without saying that if he can secure a spot in the rotation, the Braves will not have to spend as many dollars on external options in the starting rotation. If Newcomb flops or they find the right deal, they know they can always fall back on him rejoining the bullpen. Heck, I think he could even make a decent clsoer one day.
But I still think Sean Newcomb can be a really good starter. He has incredible raw stuff and is still just 26 years old. The Braves are making the right move to, at the very least, allow him to prove himself. However, he will have to prove that he can control his repertoire throughout the course of a start. If he can do so, he can be a big-time asset to this rotation as Newcomb was in early 2018, when he was one of the best starters in the MLB.
It seems, for now, the Braves will likely pursue starters, and if they cannot find the right guys, they will plug him into the rotation and look for a lefty reliever.