2020 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Sean Newcomb

Sean Newcomb is a name many Braves fans have likely started to forget. In addition to that, Newcomb probably wants to forget about the past year or two of his career as well. After starting just 4 games in 2020 he was demoted to the alternate training site and never returned despite the Braves rotation issues all season.

2020 Season

Newcomb started out the season decently, only giving up 1 ER in his first start. However, he threw 82 pitches in just 3.1 innings with 2 walks and 2 hit batters. The wheels fell off in his second outing, 6 ER in 4.1 innings. After another decent outing (2 ER in 4.2 IP), Newcomb ultimately imploded allowing a whopping 8 ER in just 1.1 innings. A trio of free passes and two homers are ultimately what did him in as the Braves sent him packing.

2019 Season

Newcomb appeared in 55 games and was great out of the bullpen. He started 3 games in April, allowing 6 ER in 12.1 innings (4 of which came in 1.1 innings in his final start) before being relegated to AAA. About a month later he was recalled to work as a reliever and it appeared, he had found his craft. In 56 innings out of the bullpen he held a 2.89 ERA. Besides a few 3 run outings he was a great reliever.

Moving Forwards

Newcomb showed a lot of promise early in his career, but as a starter he just hasn’t shown the control necessary to continue. His fastball is about league average, but his curveball has been well above average with elite spin. In 2019 he was great at limiting hard contact and out of the bullpen he was able to work 100% from the first pitch. He really benefitted from this and was able to go after hitters. As evidence, his BB/9 out of the bullpen are significantly lower than as a starter. For Newcomb the only option is going to be to show up to Spring Training ready to fight for a spot in an already lefty-heavy bullpen or find himself on another team or back in AAA trying to figure out how to pitch again. I still have faith in Newcomb and would love to see him get a spot over someone like Grant Dayton, but with Tyler Matzek, A.J. Minter and Will Smith all lefties it would be surprising to see him get a spot unless he can really find some of that 2019 bullpen magic in Spring Training.

Author: Matt P

Hello, I’m Matt Pocza! I am a 4th year finance and economics student at the University of Florida and I love the Atlanta Braves. I’ve played baseball my entire life, and I am a sidearm pitcher for the club team at Florida. I also enjoy scuba diving, football and business. Follow me on twitter @braves_rumors!

37 thoughts on “2020 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Sean Newcomb”

  1. As a Dodgers fan from 1949 until they joined the California gold rush, I would love to have a Newk on staff. Sean needs to step up or aside.

  2. @1, I didn’t know that! In that case, I think we oughta get an Oisk and a Scoonj on the team, too.

  3. Newcombe….

    remembering his first ever pitch in the major leagues….

    while we waited, salivating, for something near 100…

    he launched an ultra slow, very high curve that plummeted down and in for a strike…

    right hand hitter, totally bamboozled…

    well, we said, we’re not going to have any control problems with this guy.

  4. And Ian Desmond has opted out. Would think that more will follow. Miraculously, it’ll be a great season without them.

  5. @7 yeah, if he could reclaim any of his prior performance with the D’Backs then this is a great signing. And pretty decent insurance for Riley (with some platoon possibility). This would seem to pretty much lock out Markakis and Panda. Seems like this pretty much completes the bench barring something unexpected in ST.

    Jackson/Contreras (backup C)
    Lamb (LH)
    Kipnis (LH)
    Demeritte (RH)
    Camargo (SW)

    Assuming Pache is held back then Ender is CF and possibly released when Pache is called back.

    Maybe only one of Lamb/Kipnis sticks if Ender stays. Everyone listed has more IF experience than OF. Unless Kipnis is the CF backup. I don’t see any of Mayfield, Almonte, Adrianza being better than the above.

    I’m guessing the only thing left is a RH reliever and I hope it’s Greene.

    Barring a NL DH or a “big trade”, I gotta think the Braves are about done. I’m also betting that Mayfield and/or Almonte might be DFA’d.

  6. I agree with that bench, except Camargo does have options so he could go to AAA if Ender stays. Still don’t see that as super likely though and then you have 3 lefties on your bench with one of them being worthless as a PH (ender)

  7. Well, Demeritte just got outrighted but I think that’s just a way to keep others with no options. I stand by my bench if Demeritte does well in the Spring.

  8. I don’t think Lamb is a shoe-in for a bench spot. He has been sub-replacement level for 3 years now. Maybe he’s righted the ship, and I hope he does. He had a .938 OPS against RHP in 2017, but that was a long time ago. I’m not getting the impression that he had a 3 year long injury either. Not sure if Seitzer can work with someone who is just simply getting a NRI enough to make an impact, but he definitely has the highest upside of anyone on the bench.

  9. Lamb’s SLG for the last three years, .348, .353, .352. I wonder where he’d rank on a list of “two-season flukes”, because that is one crazy distribution….

  10. @16 One would assume this is a miserly ownership group being conservative because of Covid. So one would then assume that if Atlanta has another great year, there is great attendance, and they can comfortably say there’s a boatload of playoff revenue coming in October, I would think the purse strings would open in July to add to the roster.

    I’m not going to defend a cheap ownership group one bit, but I think it’s appropriate since this is a post about Sean Newcomb to question why young arms are not getting opportunities. We have arms; they need an opportunity. If Smyly ends up in the rotation and Wright doesn’t have a spot, let him be a reliever. Newcomb, Muller, Ynoa, Davidson, Wilson, Touki. Throw them out there and see how they do. If they fail and fans are in the stands and the money is flowing, then go make a move.

    Same with Ender. He knows this is his last chance. Give him 100 PAs. If he doesn’t hit, release him and go make a move to get a decent backup outfielder. If he hits, either keep him or trade him for salary relief.

    Spring is in the air. I’m optimistic, and I’m really interested in the possibilities for the last 4-5 spots on the roster with how much talent is already in-house that we just don’t know enough about.

  11. I generally agree about treating this as a put-up-or-shut-up season for a lot of these young pitchers on the bubble, and wish the Braves would just throw ’em all into the pen.

    The only quibble I have is giving Ender 100 PA. I think you and I and everyone here can guess what Ender’ll do with 100 PA — he’ll hit 20 singles, draw five walks, and make 75 outs.

    Speaking of Don Newcombe, this is great: https://theundefeated.com/features/every-pro-teams-jackie-robinson/

  12. Not surprised, but still really disappointed with where the team is at this point in the rebuild/championship window. I had really hoped by now the payroll would increase more and we’d have seen some “all-in” moves (We pretty much all agree they’ve held onto some of these arms for too long, right?)

    I think the ownership is fine assembling a team good enough to make the playoffs most years and let the fates decide. This reeks of the late stages of the recent Cubs/Indians teams. Sad, because I think this team is really only one all-star bat and two relief arms away from a real juggernaut. Just doesn’t seem like they’re going to take that final step. If they do, I will be the first to applaud.

  13. @16 – if we are in such a crunch and have been since last year, why did we pay what seemed like so much extra for Smyley?

  14. I see Smyly as both starting pitching and bullpen insurance. I don’t know if needs will determine where he’s used vs. where they think he is best, but Smyly gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility based on how the other pieces of the staff develop. I do wonder what will happen if Wright is pitching well again in Spring Training this year and Soroka is fully healthy.

    Plus, if you didn’t give the money to Smyly, where would you have upgraded on the position player side? Justin Turner would have probably been one of the only sure-fire upgrades on the position player market, and maybe they knew he wanted to go back to LA. They couldn’t afford Arenado and they are fairly entrenched with a candidate everywhere else. If it was between getting a couple extra bench bats and getting Smyly, I’m glad they chose Smyly.

  15. If Liberty is really in that much of a financial crunch, paying that much for Drew Smyly is lunacy.

    I am living for the day that that motel porn installing company decides to sell my beloved Braves.

    The new trend of MLB teams banking their financial futures on adjacent touristy retail projects seems a little bit like building a McMansion on top of a central Florida karst formation, IMO.

  16. Ironically, the Braves did actually want to build their Spring Training complex on a piece of land in central Florida that used to be a landfill, so they were very close to doing just that.

    Who should they have signed if they didn’t sign Smyly? I genuinely don’t know who would have been more of a value add than Smyly for $11M.

  17. Kevin Mather, president of the Mariners, said the quiet part out loud, and now he has resigned:

    https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/mariners-president-kevin-mather-admits-team-manipulates-service-time-and-criticizes-players-english-in-video/

    “If our major-league team had a COVID outbreak or injuries and we had to call people up from the taxi squad, we were a little short on players, because there was no chance you were going to see these young players at T-Mobile Park,” Mather said. “We weren’t going to put them on the 40-man roster, we weren’t going to start the service-time clock. There were all kinds of reasons. If we would’ve had an injury problem or COVID outbreak, you might’ve seen my big tummy out there in left field. You would not have seen our young players, our prospects, playing at T-Mobile Park.”

  18. @24 No one. That was my point. If you’re that cash strapped, then just see what Tucker Davidson or Newcomb or Ynoa on a medium leash or insert any other pitching prospect of the rebuild.

    My bigger point was that cash strapped orgs (allegedly) shouldn’t be signing the Drew Smylys of the world for 10+M.

    I’m just in a mood but I’m honestly not verklempt either way.

  19. Dustin Fowler was designated for assignment today. He may have more upside than and certainly fits organizational needs better than Phil Ervin, who was picked up today.

  20. On Smyly, I’m not far from Chief’s opinion. If so cash strapped, that $ could have gone to an offensive piece and let the 5th starter work itself out with all the young arms we have stockpiled. As it is, apparently we couldn’t afford the Duvall or Melancon deals. Smyly’s money signs both (whether good or bad is up for debate.)

  21. I believe Ken’s report but I don’t necessarily think it’s that detrimental to the competitive window if the reduction is for this year only. If Ozuna were on the Mets and there was hole in LF with no obvious solution, I would feel much differently. Thankfully, this roster needs a few supporting pieces, not giant ones, and they will probably have to come via trade to make the money work.

    We have a prospect surplus, especially with guys like Touki, who in my estimation needs major league innings on a non-contending team. While it would pain me to pay a prospect premium because of payroll issues, we have the ability to do so.

    I liked the Smyly signing at the time and more so now that I’ve seen Walker’s deal with the Mets. It’s much harder to find decent-upside starting pitching than bench pieces. Ender being respectable would go a long way.

  22. Hasn’t the DH been completely ruled out? I think we’ll get it for 2022, but I thought 2021 was completely dead.

  23. List of guys that signed for similar money that Smyly signed for (1YR/$11M):

    Pedro Baez – 2YR/$12.5M
    Archie Bradley – 1YR/$6M
    Michael Brantley – 2YR/$32M
    Alex Colome – 1YR/$6.25M
    Nelson Cruz – 1YR/$13M
    Adam Eaton – 1YR/$7M
    Didi Gregorious- 2YR/$28M
    Yuli Gurriel – 1YR/$7M
    Brad Hand – 1YR/$10.5M
    Corey Kluber – 1YR/$111M
    Tommy La Stellaaaaaa – 3YR/$18.75M
    James McCann – 4YR/40.6M
    Mike Minor – 2YR/$18M
    Yady Molina – 1YR/$9M
    Charlie Morton – So, we actually signed him.
    Marcell Ozuna – Get this, we actually signed him too.
    James Paxton – 1YR/$8.5M
    Joc Pederson – 1YR/$7M
    Jurickson Profar – 3YR/$21M
    Garrett Richards – 1YR/$10M
    Trevor Rosenthal – 1YR/$11M
    Carlos Santana – 2YR/$17.5M
    Kyle Schwarber – 1YR/$10M
    Andrelton Simmons – 1YR/$10.5M
    Blake Treinan – 2YR/$17.5M
    Taijuan Walker – 3YR/$23M

    I’m trying to take my fan-colored glasses off to see who we should have signed. Maybe a $5M reliever and Joc Pederson? We could still get the $5M reliever anyway, so I guess I’d be saying two $5M relievers and Joc Pederson. Jurickson Profar since he can play the infield and outfield? I wouldn’t have wanted to give Profar three years. Nelson Cruz would have been great if we added the DH, but he’s out.

    Really, the one that probably makes the most sense is Brad Hand, especially based on length of commitment, but that’s largely contingent on whether you think you have a fifth starter in-house. If you don’t feel like you do, then what does another reliever get you? And Hand is a lefty, and we need righties.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s an odd signing. I’ve been beating the drum for a couple years now that it makes absolutely no sense to consolidate a ton of resources during a rebuild in starting pitchers to turn around and not use them when you need them, but I’m also on record thinking Kyle Wright is probably a dud, and past that, who else do you want to hand a spot to? And if Smyly is healthy and can give you 25+ starts, Atlanta has the best rotation in the East. I don’t care what the projections say.

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