the 2019 season, Newcomb was expected to make the next step and become a
mainstay for the Braves rotation behind Mike Foltynewicz. Long story short,
that didn’t happen… sort of. He had an interesting season, but most would agree
the Braves needed every ounce of the success he provided out of the bullpen.
was sent down to AAA in mid-April after walking 8 batters in just 12.1 innings
to start the season. He made 3 starts for Gwinnett, allowing only 5 runs in
18.2 innings pitched, a 2.47 ERA. The biggest statement for Newk was that in
the second and third starts he didn’t issue a single walk. A walk-less start
was almost unheard of for him and a big reason why he was called back up to the
majors. Upon returning to the big league club in May he became a horse for an
of the pen he allowed 18 earned runs in 56 innings pitched, a 2.89 ERA. More
importantly, he was able to show improved control with a 3.375 BB/9; 2017 and
2018 combined he sported a 4.70 BB/9. The only noticeable “change” was
Newcomb’s pitch selection. We saw a decrease in his use of change-ups from
19.1% of his pitches in 2018 to just 6.9% in 2019. This brought an increase in
fastball and slider usage, which we can probably use as the reason for his
increased control. Additionally, according to FanGraphs Newcomb’s change-up has
had a negative pitch value every year of his career.
can’t forget this was only Newcomb’s second full year in the majors and not
everybody can be Mike Soroka out of the gate. He still has work to do, but the
ceiling is sky high. The Braves are planning to let Newk work as a starter in
Spring Training. Why not? If he can stretch that newfound control into 6+
innings, even better. If that fails, you can expect to see him back in the same
role he was in 2019, a much needed trusty steed out of the bullpen.