Following Max Fried’s third consecutive fantastic start, the Braves turned to Sean Newcomb — the first of four question marks in their rotation.
Newcomb’s 8.22 ERA heading into Wednesday night’s outing is probably what he deserves based on his performance in his first two starts. Although he didn’t get much help last time out from Jhoulys Chacin, who relieved him with the bases loaded and let all three runners score. Still, it’s been more of the same from Newk the starter early in 2020 — failing to get in front of hitters and way too many deep counts. There was some of that again on Wednesday, but it was undoubtedly his best start of the season.
Newk’s night began with a perfect first inning, but trouble soon arrived in the second. Vladimir Gurrero Jr. doubled with one out, followed by a single and a sac-fly led to Toronto striking first, but Newcomb was able to limit the damage to just one run.
The two sides traded zeros for the next couple of frames, and Newcomb looked to be cruising right along after a few long innings to start the game. But then, with two outs in the fifth, things came to a screeching halt. A single by Bo Bichette, a stolen base, and then another single by Cavan Biggio led to the Blue Jays second run and Sean Newcomb’s exit. His final line read: 4.2 innings, 5 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, and four strikeouts on 92 pitches. There were still too many deep counts, but it’s something to build off of, and the Braves desperately need him to find himself as a starter.
From there, it was a battle of the bullpens, and Atlanta’s was once again razor-sharp, beginning with Josh Tomlin, who tossed 1.1 scoreless innings. Then Shane Greene, Chris Martin, and A.J. Minter followed with three perfect innings to end the game. That’s the one positive aspect of the Braves pitching staff. Their starting rotation may be littered with questions, but their bullpen has been one of the best in the game, and Brian Snitker has loads of weapons to turn to once the starters begin to falter.
Unfortunately, the Braves bats could not pick up Newcomb after scoring ten runs on Tuesday night. Their only run came in the bottom of the 7th on a long ball from Adam Duvall, who has been stellar thus far this season. The Braves did have an opportunity in the ninth with two men on, one out, and Duvall at the plate again, but he grounded into a tailor-made double play to end the game.
Atlanta wraps up their three-game set with Toronto tomorrow at 7:00 PM before heading out to Philadelphia for a four-game series that begins a nine-game road trip.