06 Jun

saddle up

While Atlanta hitters were piling up 18 hits and 14 runs against San Diego on Tuesday night, Sean Newcomb was on the mound continuing to build his case as a horse to ride on the long road ahead for the first-place Braves. The former Mississippi Braves star improved to 7-1 and trimmed his ERA to 2.49 with six shutout innings against the Padres. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound left-hander doesn’t throw exceptionally hard, but his off-speed stuff has been outstanding. “Every time he goes on the mound, you’re pretty confident we are going to get the win that day,” Freddie Freeman said in an mlb.com article. “He’s been lights-out for a long time.” Newcomb was up-and-down during his 2016 campaign as a highly rated prospect with the M-Braves, finishing 8-7 with a 3.86 while going to the post 27 times. The 15th overall pick out of Hartford by the Los Angeles Angels in 2014, he was moved to Atlanta in the Andrelton Simmons deal in 2015. Of all the former M-Braves starting pitchers who’ve gone on to the big leagues – and there are quite a few – Julio Teheran has had the most sustained success. He is 62-57 with a 3.64 ERA in 178 appearances the last eight years for Atlanta. (Charlie Morton, now with Houston, has the most wins with 67 – and a World Series ring – but his career has been more spotty — 79 losses, 4.30 ERA.) Teheran has been an All-Star, but is he truly an ace? He has a 4.31 ERA this year and just went on the disabled list. Mike Foltynewicz is 5-3 with a 2.22 ERA but has an erratic track record. Veteran Brandon McCarthy is a back-end guy. Yes, the Braves have a great lineup, but their rotation is a concern. Newcomb’s emergence as a potential ace could be huge as the Braves wait for more of their young guns to develop.

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