Braves 4, Marlins 3 – Sean Newcomb Pitches Like Our Ace

What’s not to love about taking 3 of 4? Yes, yes, IWOTM (this time the “M” stands for “Marlins”), but this one could tell us a lot about what is to come. More on that in a moment.

The offense did enough to win. We were gifted a free run in the first when the Marlins let a Nick Markakis pop up drop, scoring Freddie Freeman. Ender Inciarte hit his second home run in as many days, and he’s starting to come alive. He’s 9 for his last 20 with said 2 home runs and 2 doubles. Production out of him further lengthens the lineup.

But Sean Newcomb is your story. He is on a 20-inning scoreless streak at the moment, finishing the day with 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, and 6 K. He walked four, which is still the only real blemish in his game. But he’s been pretty much unhittable in that span, giving up only 5 hits during that 20-inning span. He sits with a 2.51 ERA with 54 K’s in 46.2 IP. His K, H, and HR rates have all improved significantly since last year, and if he can keep anywhere close to this up, he will be considered the staff ace before too long. As it sits, his WAR puts him up with the elite SP in baseball.

But I want to talk to you today about what’s happening in A+. Bryse Wilson has since been promoted to AA, but his work at A+ made him the MVP of the early season. He had 1 ER, 7 BB, and 26 K in 26.2 IP in his 5 starts, good for a 0.34 ERA. He was simply lights-out, and at this point, ahead of the Blue Chip Triplets (Ian Anderson, Joey Wentz, and Kyle Muller) that were all drafted ahead of him in 2016. Those guys, though, are doing fine in their own right, all currently at A+, though none pitching like they’ll be earning a call to AA any time soon. Anderson has a low IP per outing (31 IP in 7 GS), and that’s tops amongst them.

Troy Bacon, taken in the 4th round last year out of JC, is pitching well in a long relief role, and Thomas Burrows (part of the Luiz Gohara trade) earned a promotion to A+ and has been ok (17 IP, 16 K, 9 BB, 14 H).

On the position player side, the two top prospects are Brett Cumberland and Cristian Pache, both up-the-middle guys enjoying around .750 OPS so far. No one is hitting the cover off the ball, but those guys putting up decent numbers for a catcher and centerfielder, respectively, relative to their professional experience is encouraging in the young season.

We head to Chicago to take on the Cubs tomorrow.

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100 thoughts on “Braves 4, Marlins 3 – Sean Newcomb Pitches Like Our Ace”

  1. In a true Tilt of Titans, Chief Nocahoma looks set to best me 5-4 in the Braves Journal league this week. But what’s notable is not a seasoned fantasy player’s narrow win over a first-timer-in-a-while. It’s that my team beat his team in home runs, but his team beat mine in stolen bases. I tend to value speed highly, and he tends to value power even more highly (a real neanderthal, I tell ya), but that’s not the way the teams performed.

    Chief, I’ll see you again in October!

  2. Ladies and gentlemen, we now have the best record in the national league. Raise your hand if you thought that would be the case byMay 14.

  3. Newk was mostly great even though he wasn’t able to throw his curve yesterday. Said it before, it seems to be a different guy every night. Albies and Acuna have been mostly quiet on the road trip, still we managed to go 5-1.

  4. Can someone remind me who predicted 92 wins, voted for us as the reincarnation of the ‘27 Yanks, and got Ohtani as your ROY and Charlie Morton your CY?

    Nah, they won’t take me out my element!

  5. So Fangraphs projections now have us up to 82 wins (along with a bunch of others) but the best part is that the second WC is down to 84 wins. Along with the best record in the league up to this point, I’d have to say a good showing against the Cubbies this series would leave is in a really good place. Two wins is just a good rental or a surprisingly good call-up from the playoffs.

  6. The Cubbies have become the first team to pass us in offensive WAR. I’d say the pitching staff has its work cut out. What is currently being the biggest drag is, I think, the defense. Nick’s defense seems to be sliding and SS/3B have not been great. We need Dansby and Flaherty back on the left side. I wish it were for this series. Bautista, Camargo, and Culberson have all been net negatives at 3B while Flaherty is our third best defender overall. Shockingly, Acuna is not getting good marks for defense. I wonder what the deal is there.

  7. Let’s see. In the past week, Atlanta set a new team record for pitching consecutive scoreless innings on the road. They have maintained 1st place in the NL East, and they have improved to best record in the NL.

    So it makes sense in every way for most power rankings to move the Nationals and Phillies ahead of them. Yep.

  8. Can’t argue with Newk’s results, and I am a big fan, but I don’t think his performance was as impressive as the stats indicate. He’s still missing an awful lot, too much for me to believe he’s reached his potential. His command seems to come and go, but he’s becoming very skilled at battling through his stretches of poor control. I guess you can survive some walks when you only give up one hit. That being said, I’m very excited with what he’s done, and I think he’s definitely a keeper.

  9. @11 He’s currently pitching like our best pitcher, but yes, that’s not saying that much. I still have no confidence in throwing any one of these guys in a playoff game, and no collection of 3+ of these guys in a playoff series.

    Not to get way ahead of myself, but I could see a pitcher from the outside + Newcomb + Folty as a potentially dangerous short series set of starters, but it would also be a crapshoot with Newk and Folty. Could you imagine going into the offseason after a 3 game NLDS sweep in which Folty gets ejected in the 3rd inning of game 3 because he called the umpire’s mother a derogatory name?

  10. Hambone, I agree with everything you said. He’s pitching well, but odds are we’ve all seen better in a distant past. I’ve just about let go of my biased expectations on pitching, though, and listening to Joe and Chip yesterday became difficult regarding the whole “If starters are only going to make a hundred pitches in a game, then why not go to a four man rotation and have them pitch more often?” The reality is that starters are not asked or expected to go more than 5 or 6 innings. They’re given a soft pitch cap and told to retire the opposing lineup twice. The rest is cake.

    And you know what? I’m hearing pitching is starting dominate again enough so that I even saw a click-bait headline suggesting new rule changes to restore the balance. If the pitching ain’t broke, then no need to suggest our guys do anything more. They’re right in line with every other rotation in terms of innings pitched.

    BTW, if they want to fix the balance, do away with the ridiculous shifts. I’m tired of seeing third basemen standing next to the second basemen. Stay with x feet of your position or be ruled dead during the play. Dead man touches the ball? Ground rule double.

  11. @12 Our young pitchers are unproven but they haven’t been anything less than very good. I have no problem marching into the NLDS with Teheran, Newcomb, and Foltynewicz. The only one who really scares me at the moment is Folty, though. Hopefully someone like Soroka will have earned the right to start by then.

    Otherwise, who could the Braves realistically acquire who would be better than what we’ve gotten value-wise from our best three starters?

  12. No Braves pitcher in the 110 year history of the franchise has ever allowed zero runs and 2 hits or less in 3 consecutive starts until Newk just did. That’s fairly impressive.

  13. Of all of our top 1-2 round picks, top trade returns, and top international signings, the player I’m most skeptical about is Austin Riley. I think Wright, Allard, Soroka, Newcomb, Acuna, Albies, Dansby, and Minter (he was a 3rd-rounder, admittedly) have been worth all the hype. But for whatever reason, whether it’s his body type, his mixed reviews on defense, KLaw’s concerns about his bat speed, I’m still slightly unconvinced. With that said, if he puts in 300+ PAs at AAA with an impressive performance, then that’s probably when I change my mind. But as it sits, I’m not totally sure why, but I feel like he might be getting some helium, same way many think is happening with Allard. I think that could be true for both, granted.

    Maybe it’s just a flaw in my thought process when it comes to position player prospects. I tend to place a high degree of stock in athleticism and an up-the-middle position, which goes hand-in-hand. But I feel like I see a lot of Andy Marte’s, Edward Salcedo’s, Cody Johnson’s, and Kevin Maitan’s (maybe?) for every one Freddie Freeman that hits as an impact corner bat. You could point to Jason Heyward as a corner bat that hit, but let’s be honest, in another world, he should have played centerfield and profiled as a different player.

    Wasn’t there another corner INF “can’t miss” in the mid-2000’s that also didn’t hit? Or am I just magnifying the bust that was Andy Marte into two players? If there’s some truth in some of the negative scouting with Austin Riley that his bat is a little slow (which would get exposed starting right about around he hits 3 HRs in a AAA game…), he’s not great defensively, and he’s not as athletic as he needs to be, then don’t you just have another Andy Marte?

    Very interested to hear other thoughts.

  14. Would you put more stock in Riley’s actual minor league numbers, or what Keith Law has written about him? Genuinely curious…

  15. To add to that point, put it this way: if Austin Riley is not as athletic as he needs to be to adjust to stiffer competition, do you feel more confident in an Austin Riley-type trimming up, getting more athletic, getting leaner vs. a Cristian Pache continuing to put on weight to add power to what is already natural, elite athleticism? I see Pache becoming Acuna a lot easier than I see Austin Riley becoming Freddie Freeman, who is way more athletic than he gets credit for.

    Maybe I just can’t get over unflattering pictures like this:

    and probably should be more enamored with pictures like this:
    ?w=300&h=281

  16. @18

    I tend to put a lot of stock in both, to be honest. If I went only off of numbers, I might be thinking that, even at age-25, Wes Parsons has turned a corner:

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=parson000wes

    or that we should not have traded Brandon Barker when he was doing what he was doing at 23 in AA:

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=barker000bra

    He was the guy we traded to get Brian Matusz’s contract and the pick that went to actually get Riley, if I’m not mistaken.

    With that said, there’s nothing to not love about Riley’s performance at AA and AAA. That’s why I think it’s tough with him.

  17. Klaw saw Riley while the latter was dealing with a cracked rib, so of course the bat was slow. Since then Riley has lost 20 pounds and become a plus defender at 3rd as well. It would not surprise me to see him in Atlanta come august.

  18. Wasn’t there another corner INF “can’t miss” in the mid-2000’s that also didn’t hit?

    Perhaps you’re thinking of Wilson Betemit?

  19. @19, If we’re talking about 3B I’ll take big guys that already hit for power over guys that weigh 160 pounds and haven’t shown any power at all. But they play two completely different positions so the comparisons don’t make much sense.

    You can always move Riley to LF if needed. But next year’s OF will be more crowded with Harper in the mix.

  20. Rob,

    I disagree that the pessimism on Riley is warranted. Very few prospects truly meet “can’t miss.” By late last year, Acuna had. Probably Vlad, Jr. right now. ALL pitchers have the qualifier “if he doesn’t blow his arm out.”

    If what you are trying to ask is “Is Austin Riley so good that we would probably not marginally improve by bringing in Donaldson or Machado next year?”, then no, he is not that certain nor does he appear to have that ceiling.

    I think Riley can handle 3B at least as well as mid career Troy Glaus. All of the scouts have raised their fielding grades on him. He is now 50 to 55 (but that includes the impact of a 60 to 65 arm).

    Also, Riley is barely older than Albies and Acuna. And he has not faced professional competition nearly as long as either of them. Remember that about 10 days ago one of the FanGraphs guys (think it was Jaffe) looked at how likely Acuna was to be in the Hall of Fame. At 100 PA’s before age 21, that jumps to almost 1 / 5. So, if Riley comes up after the ASB, then he would be one year older. Just by making an appearance (even if he was bad), that would be highly indicative of a possibility of greatness.

    My actual feeling is Riley can be a 3 ish WAR player now. With power coming over the next 5 to 7 years I could see him getting to a base of 4 WAR and maybe having a single peak year of 5. I absolutely feel he is at least a 2 WAR ML average player now. And, at that age, the odds are he will have much better years going forward.

    Look at it another way. Would you rather have a bet on WAR through cost controlled years on Riley or on any pitcher still in minors, pick em? I would not. If you took “field” on the pitchers, yeah. The odds are out of Wright, Toussaint, Wilson, Anderson, Allard, Wentz, Muller, that one of them would really be good and make it through 6 years. Not for “pick em.”

  21. Wasn’t there another corner INF “can’t miss” in the mid-2000’s that also didn’t hit?

    If you’re talking just Braves, Casey Kotchman is a notable example of a guy who simply failed to develop. Travis Lee and Sean Burroughs, obviously. Even more catastrophic corner prospect failures include Matt LaPorta and Mat Gamel. The Angels had a pair of big busts, Dallas McPherson and Brandon Wood. According to some, Andy LaRoche was supposed to be better than his brother. (So was Jeremy Giambi.) It wasn’t just our guys.

  22. Another big time hitting prospect who comes to mind during that same-ish time frame as Marte is Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He just never materialized into the legend that was to be “Salty.”

    Another one is Kelly Johnson. He had a couple of pretty good seasons and has played a full career, but, perhaps unfairly, he was often described as a possible young Chipper Jones when he was working his way up to the bigs.

    There’s nothing wrong with the player Johnson turned into.

  23. Seems odd to be taking wind out of Riley’s sails the day after he hit three bombs and drove in 8 at AAA.

  24. Ian Stewart falls into that category, too. Joe Borchard. Ben Broussard. Josh Vitters was a massive bust. Maikel Franco could go either way, but he’s looking like he’ll either be a bust — or maybe he’ll be Eric Hinske with a ten-year career as a platoon guy and bench bat.

  25. I was definitely thinking of Wilson Betemit. Thank you so much.

    If you have a beer with Matt LaPorta, he’ll tell you that his arthritic hip was the reason for his stall, and I believe him. Like Stu had a healthy fear of Florida Masher Preston Tucker, I had a similar love and admiration for Matt LaPorta and Ryan Shealy’s reign of terror in Gainesville.

    @23

    Everything I’ve seen leads me to believe there is no way Brady Singer and Joey Bart falls to us. And since we’re on the subject, we’re not going to get Casey Mize either.

  26. @29

    I think that’s why we’re talking about it. He’s had an incredible day at AAA, which is new territory for him. And it makes the rubber hit the road more with Atlanta that if he continues to excel at AAA, how do you hold him down? But that triggers the thought that cliff more eloquently put of whether or not he’s the solution vs. Donaldson or Machado.

  27. I’ve penciled him into 3B so that we can sign Harper and still have some left over for a pitcher or two.

  28. How about a little more recent and ongoing comparison? Over in O’s land, all the experts said Trey Mancini’s bat was too slow and his hit tool wouldn’t translate to the majors. He pretty much blew through the minors like Riley is doing (albeit at a slightly older age) and he’s putting up respectable numbers in the majors – not only for power but also for contact.

  29. Singer could fall, but no thanks. If the Braves are targeting Gator pitchers (and I don’t think they are), Jackson Kowar is the one you want.

  30. I’m with krussell – let’s take our chances with Riley and sign Harper. We have fewer OFs in the system as close to the majors with as much power potential as Riley. If I had to choose Riley and Harper or Machado/Donaldson and Dustin Peterson, to me, the choice is a no-brainer.

  31. @19 Cristian Pache does not weigh 160 pounds. He’s at least 180 at this point, and he’ll continue to put weight on his frame. He’s not Juan Pierre, who never got as big as Pache is right now at 19.

  32. Okay. I see the conversation path at least.

    As far as giant man-child 3B types who were much hyped but sort of busted at the MLB level, I can’t believe no one has gone to the Wes Helms well yet.

  33. 35—No. Just saying, I’d take him before I’d take Singer.

    I would expect the Braves to take a bat or a HS arm, though.

  34. I know that Ozzie Albies is leading the National League in homers, but his OBP is just .310. That’s all very well if you just want to be an All-Star, but he wants to be the MVP, he’s going to have to bring that up a few points.

  35. I don’t think Scotty Thorman plays here, much like in MLB. I thought we were limiting the list to players who were impressive in the minors before blowing out in the majors. Thorman was never impressive at all. His primary baseball skill was being tall.

  36. No, that’s a completely fair point. I mainly just wanted to pad out my comment, which I principally wrote because I wanted to type the words “Wes Smelms.” Feel free to substitute Mike Hessman for Scott Thorman, just like the Braves tried to.

  37. If the task for SPs is really just to get through the order twice and then turn it over to the bullpen, I think a postseason rotation of Newcomb, Folty, Teheran & maybe Soroka is fine. Newcomb’s wild, Folty’s temperamental, Teheran’s arm is falling off and Soroka is 12 years old but they are all competent-ish SPs. With a good bullpen and a strong lineup, that may be enough.

    LOL @ myself discussing the postseason rotation in May, but it’s fun that the idea of making the postseason doesn’t seem completely ridiculous.

  38. Does Jose Oliva fit this discussion? I don’t remember if he was a phenom or just a filler piece projection.

  39. The Cubs look like took some defensive tips from the 2006 Tigers.

    (And no, Oliva was mostly just a guy. His .235/.301/.466 in AAA as a 22-year-old was pretty predictive of his major league career: real power, but a total inability to actually get on base. Looks like he topped out as our #7 prospect — https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Jose_Oliva. Juan Francisco is a slightly better example of an actual prospect who fit that feast-or-famine profile.)

  40. You go back through Hessman’s minor league record and wonder what on Earth they were thinking, but then you remember that his job was really only “be better than Robert Fick?”

  41. Mike Hessman is the all time minor league record holder for home runs I believe.

    He was never really considered that much of a prospect though. Even if he was good he would not play 3rd base for Atlanta in that era. I think he had a couple of short stints for Atlanta when Chipper went to the DL.

  42. Adam LaRoche was a middling prospect at best when he came up and platooned with Julio Franco. He had a much better career than anyone could have predicted.

    The Braves signed Rico Brogna to play first after Galarraga left in 2001. That was a disaster. Then they tried late era Ken Caminiti, who had never played first, and that was even worse than Brogna. Wes Smelms was actually the Braves best option at first that season until they found Franco in Mexico in late August.

  43. Joey and Charlie in the same lineup is really not a great idea by Snitker.

    Day game straight off the airplane. There are considerations outside of straight “best lineup all day, er’h day” that a real manager has to consider. This isn’t fantasy.

  44. Also, LHP. And Camargo probably needed a day and hasn’t exactly been tearing the cover off the ball.

  45. I know that Ozzie Albies is leading the National League in homers, but his OBP is just .314. That’s all very well if you just want to be an All-Star, but he wants to be the MVP, he’s going to have to bring that up a few points.

  46. I did say a few weeks ago that there’s no freaking way that Albies hits 50 HRs. Looks like he wants to prove me wrong by hitting more than that…sheesh.

  47. Any question that when Dansby returns Culberson gets dfa and Bautista becomes a bench bat? His defense is costing us.

  48. Bautista will always find a way to nullify any accomplishment he makes at some point in the game.

  49. Victor Caratini was traded for Bonifacio and James Russell. Probably would like to have that one back.

  50. 83 — And on cue, Camargo makes a great diving stop after staying in the game at 3rd.

  51. There’s no reason for any of these Cubs to be on the field. It’s the 9th inning. Just get the last out.

  52. Alright. Good win. Good night.
    Somebody different every night: Flow, Mr. Bats and Carle tonight.

  53. @95 Don’t forget Albies. His homer tonight moves him into a tie for 1st with Bryce Harper with 13 home runs.

  54. Victor Caratini’s two year average as a Major Leaguer: 268/333/348. In that time, we’ve had Flowzuki holding down the catcher position as a league leader, both offensively and defensively. While no one is going to oversell the value of Jame Russell or Boneface, let’s not pretend that Caratini is himself some hugely missed piece.

  55. Oh wow. I just realized today’s game was actually the makeup date for the freeze out from earlier this year. So that makes the lineup decisions even more defensible. This was supposed to be a travel day/off day.

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