Atlanta Braves: A closer look at Sean Newcomb’s debut

Jun 10, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Sean Newcomb (51) throws the ball against the New York Mets during the sixth inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 10, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Sean Newcomb (51) throws the ball against the New York Mets during the sixth inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Los Angeles Angels traded for Andrelton Simmons, they had to part ways with the best two pitching prospects in their organization. Chris Ellis and Sean Newcomb had a lot to accomplish to ease Atlanta’s pain of moving on without with Simmons. Newcomb has risen to the occasion.

Chris Ellis was a promising right-hander Atlanta’s front office took a liking to. The regard was short-lived, as Ellis only played one season, 2016, in the club’s farm system. When the Atlanta Braves pulled the trigger on the Simmons trade, it was the lefty they truly wanted. Sean Newcomb‘s debut was what Braves brass dreamed of.

The general overview of his performance has been quickly touched on already. Newcomb was handed game one of a Saturday doubleheader. He did everything he was supposed to do to keep his team in the hunt for the win. Newcomb’s first major-league start lasted 6.1 innings while allowing one unearned run.

The first to step up and get a look at the southpaw’s plus-plus fastball was Juan Lagares. The at-bat was quick, ending with a called third strike. In the words of beat writer Mark Bowman, it was lit. The next taker was Michael Conforto.

Now, Conforto is a batter who’s been babied against left-hand pitching, and hasn’t shown to be entirely proficient in the matter. Conforto is hitting .104 against left-handed pitching on the road for his career. The nightmare continued on three straight pitches from Newcomb. Bowman again voiced his conviction.

Sean Newcomb’s debut was off to a hot start.

The second inning was turbulent, starting with a lead-off single by Wilmer Flores. A throwing error from Newcomb resulted in a first-and-third situation. T.J. Rivera scored Flores on a sacrifice fly and Asdrubal Cabrera moved to second on the throw to home. Jose Reyes grounded out on the next play. The next batter was intentionally walked, and the inning ended on a ground ball back to Newcomb.

The third inning saw a walk worked by Conforto, and a single from Flores on his way to a 6-for-9 day between the two games.

Newcomb’s fourth inning was as strong as his first. T.J. Rivera struck out swinging hopelessly on a plus curveball at 78 MPH. Reyes grounded out to Dansby Swanson on a 2-1 fastball. Rene Rivera struck out swinging on a 94 fastball and Mark Bowman was having a field day.

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Inning number five was the same story. Three batters, two K’s, no walks. Inning six only had one strikeout. It came after a Yoenis Cespedes fly out to left. Newcomb had reached a streak of nine consecutive batters retired ending on Cabrera’s two-out single. Nothing would come from the one-bagger, as Newcomb threw T.J. Rivera out at first on a ground ball.

Sean Newcomb’s first ride on the major-league mound was about to end. He got Jose Reyes to fly out in the top of the seventh inning. Rene Rivera reached on a single, and Braves manager Brian Snitker went to the mound to take the ball.

The day was over for the rookie pitcher. His final line stood at 6.1 innings, with four hits, two walks and seven K’s. He tossed 96 pitches, 70 of them for strikes. Not bad for a pitcher with a history of command issues. Newcomb would walk out to a well-earned standing ovation.

The curveball was working all day in Sean Newcomb’s debut. His fastball sat at an average of 93 MPH. This was the performance Braves fans dreamed of since his arrival. It was good to see him with a strong feel for his pitches and fill the zone. Due to the throwing error, Newcomb boasts a clean 0.00 ERA, with a 9.9 K/9 rate.

Next: Mets finally getting healthy

This is a good time to visit the strange situation of a pitcher’s throwing error. Runs which are scored due to an error are not accredited to the pitcher. When the pitcher commits the error of which a run results, the rules still apply. Jon Lester loves the idea.