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Braves look to rebound in rubber match vs Marlins

Sean Newcomb may be pitching for a rotation spot Sunday!

MLB: Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

“They’re so hell-bent on giving, walking a wire

Convinced its not living if you stand outside the fire.”

Garth Brooks is by far my favorite musician of all time. One of my favorite songs of his is “Standing Outside the Fire”. The lyrics above are from that song, and I feel are very applicable to the Braves.

If Tiger Woods has become the official meme, then these words should be the official theme.

The Braves pitching staff is fully intent on giving Hotlanta a new meaning. In 2018, The Braves were third in the league for most games giving up 5 walks or more, with 53. In 2019, they are averaging five walks a game. For individual pitchers, Julio Teheran and Sean Newcomb were first and third amongst starters in number of starts giving up three walks or more in 2018. In their three combined starts this year, they have issued nine total walks. The Braves are consistently playing with fire, and have been burned multiple times already this year.

Despite the horrid control issues to start the season, the Braves have had some very needed and encouraging results over the past three games. Max Fried, Kevin Gausman, and Kyle Wright have combined for 19 IP, a 16/3 K/BB ratio, 8 hits allowed, and only 2 runs. Combined with Folty returning in the next week, these dominant starts may have put a few rotation spots up for grabs, including Newcomb’s.

As a result, Newcomb needs a solid start on Sunday. Furthermore, the Braves need it as well. Despite 3 straight games of the starters going 6 or more innings, the bullpen has still given up 6 runs in that stretch. They were 10 feet away from that being 10 runs on Starlin Castro’s deep fly ball to end the game with the bases loaded Friday night. The last thing the Braves need is for Newcomb to struggle early in the game and getting into a high pitch count early.

Unfortunately, Newcomb likely will not be working in the most ideal conditions to be productive. A hamstring injury has placed Brian McCann on the IL. A triple digit heater to the hand has cast doubt on Tyler Flowers’s ability to play. As a result, Alex Jackson may get his first start Sunday at catcher in the major leagues. And while Jackson has good potential at the plate, he is still a work in progress behind it. Newcomb will need to be on top of his game with a rookie catcher potentially making his debut.

Thankfully, there is a silver lining. The Braves will be facing a southpaw in the person of Caleb Smith on Sunday. This obviously is a positive development with the Braves overwhelming success against left-handers since the beginning of 2018. The ironic thing is that in Smith’s one career start against Atlanta last year, it was left-handed Braves’ hitters who had the most success. Freddie Freeman had five hits while Ender Inciarte contributed 3 of his own. Ozzie Albies may have had his best game so far in the big leagues that day as well, earning a career high 5 RBIS.

As mentioned above, there should be no doubt this is a big start for Sean Newcomb. With the Braves drastically needing another deep performance from a starter, Newcomb needs to perform well against one of the weaker lineups in baseball. Furthermore, coming off some unlucky hard-hit outs on Saturday night, the Braves’ hitters should have plenty of motivation to do some damage. Even if Newcomb struggles, the offense should find enough success to pull off the win.

BOLD PREDICTION: Alex Jackson’s first hit is for extra bases, and the Braves hit multiple homers.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Sunday

Location: SunTrust Park, Atlanta, Georgia, April 7th, 1:20 PM EST

TV: Fox Sports South

Streaming: MLB.tv

Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, Rock 100.5, Braves Radio Network

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