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Inside the numbers - A look at Newcomb’s first three starts

Now that Sean Newcomb has made three starts in the majors, it’s time to take a look at his production thus far

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves - Game One Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

When left-handed pitching prospect Sean Newcomb got the call to come up and make his major league debut against the New York Mets in game one of a doubleheader on June 10, many Braves fans were simply relieved to see anyone on the mound other than Bartolo Colon.

Newcomb’s debut evoked feelings of curiosity and excitement. While a lot can be taken from reading the scouting reports about his tendencies, strengths and weaknesses in the minor leagues, it is not until a prospect is thrown into the fire and put up against major league opponents that one can truly evaluate his worth.

Even so, Newcomb still has only made three starts and pitched 18 13 innings at the major league level. There is no way to make an accurate assessment of the type of pitcher he is going to be long-term. With that said, I still wanted to take a look back at his first three starts and break down the numbers to see just how good the 24-year-old has been.

He boasts a 1.96 ERA and a 3.58 FIP. Through three starts, he’s struck out 13 batters while walking seven (one intentionally).

As commented on by Braves reporter Grant McAuley on Twitter, Newcomb has dazzled in his first three starts despite them not being identical to each other.

Let’s break it down game by game.

June 10 - Vs. New York Mets

Despite many questions about his control issues, Newcomb managed to silence critics at least for a few days with a dominant debut against the National League East rival Mets. He fanned seven batters while issuing only two walks (one intentional) and gave up just one run (unearned) on four hits over 6 13 innings pitched.

If Newcomb had any jitters due to making his debut in front of the fans at SunTrust Park, he didn’t show it. His first three pitches of the game, according to the radar gun on Fox Sports South, were 92 mph, 95 mph and 93 mph. He then put his strikeout pitch on display as he threw an 80 mph breaking ball to Juan Lagares to collect his first strikeout one batter into his MLB career.

He followed up with a strikeout of Michael Conforto and induced a Yoenis Cespedes groundout to get through the first inning untouched.

His pitches continued to look dominant throughout his start as he finished with 96 pitches, 70 of which were strikes. Fox Sports South’s Zach Dillard tweeted out a breakdown of Newcomb’s arsenal and pitch-location in his debut.

As he pointed out, the only gaffe in his debut was an error on an attempted throw to second base that later resulted in an unearned run. Newcomb’s fastball maintained an average velocity of 93 mph and he was able to mix in his changeup, curveball and slider beautifully.

June 16 - Vs. Miami Marlins

Newcomb’s control issues became slightly more prevalent in his second start, but he managed to keep his composure and make another quality start for the Braves. Newcomb finished with a final line of 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 3 K.

Although his walk total doubled and his strikeout total was down from seven to three, Newcomb’s second start was notable in that he managed to display resilience despite issuing a few walks and receiving zero run support.

The Marlins got to Newcomb early in the game as Dee Gordon led the first inning off with a single and later scored on a Christian Yelich double. Newcomb also stuck out Giancarlo Stanton, walked Marcell Ozuna and got J.T. Realmuto and Justin Bour out with help from his defense behind him to get out of the first inning.

The early run didn’t shake his poise, however, as he worked back-to-back perfect innings in the second and third. After recording two outs in the top of the fourth inning, Newcomb gave up a solo home run to Justin Bour to give the Braves a 2-0 deficit.

He was perfect once again in the fifth inning but gave up back-to-back singles to Stanton and Yelich in the sixth before walking Ozuna to load the bases with nobody out. While many 24-year-olds might feel the pressure on their shoulders and begin to unravel, Newcomb managed to get a double-play ball from Realmuto that scored a run, but put him one out away from getting out of the inning. His control issues continued to surface as he then issued back-to-back walks, but a groundout ended the inning and he escaped trailing just 3-0.

June 21 - Vs. San Francisco Giants

Although the 5-3 win over the Giants on June 21 will likely be remembered for Matt Kemp’s two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning, let us not forget that Newcomb made a third straight quality start and overcame adversity early on to finish with absolute ascendancy.

Newcomb allowed just one run on three hits and issued one walk while striking out three over six innings pitched. This becomes even more impressive when you take into account that the three hits, walk and run scored all occurred in the first 1 23 innings.

In the top of the first, he managed to pitch around a leadoff single from Denard Span by striking out Kelby Tomlinson and inducing a double play ball from Brandon Crawford.

Newcomb gave up a single to Hunter Pence and a two-out triple to Brandon Belt that scored the first run of the game, but he limited the damage by getting Jeff Samardzija to groundout to strand Belt on third.

Including Samardzija, Newcomb retired the final 13 batters he faced as he pitched a perfect third, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. He finished with just 80 pitches thrown, but manager Brian Snitker opted to remove him prior to having him face a gauntlet of right-handed hitters in Buster Posey, Pence and Austin Slater in the seventh inning.

Overall Consensus

Everything there is to say about the 24-year-old southpaw can be taken with a grain of salt because he has made only three starts and pitched less than 20 innings in the majors so far. However, he has undoubtedly shown flashes of greatness throughout his first three starts. Whether it’s mowing down batters with a variation of mid-90s fastballs and high-70s-to-mid-80s breaking balls, or showing his youth with mistakes and turning around and being resilient - Newcomb has proven that he deserves a spot in Atlanta’s starting rotation. It’s important to keep in mind that he is only 24-years-old and apt to make mistakes, but he needs the chance to grow and take his shot at continuing to prove he belongs with the big league club.

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