With their young starting rotation loaded with question marks, the Atlanta Braves will get another look at Sean Newcomb on Wednesday when they host the Toronto Blue Jays in the second game of a three-game series.
The Braves lost ace Mike Soroka to a season-ending Achilles injury on Monday and earlier designated former All-Star Mike Foltynewicz for assignment because of concern over his loss of velocity. That leaves Max Fried, who started and won on Tuesday, as the only bona fide member of the rotation and places Newcomb among the young contenders with the opportunity to fill the other slots.
Newcomb (0-0, 8.22 ERA) proved to be quite effective in middle relief last season, but was pressed into service this year as a starter — a role he prefers — when free agent Cole Hamels was sidelined with a sore shoulder and Felix Hernandez opted out because of COVID-19 concerns.
Newcomb will get his third start of the season on Tuesday when he’s matched against Toronto’s Hyun Jin Ryu (0-1, 8.00).
Newcomb has pitched a combined 7 2/3 innings in his two starts, with bouts of wildness inflating his pitch count and forcing him out of games early. He threw 4 1/3 innings against the New York Mets on Friday, but left after throwing 79 pitches, only 49 for strikes. Newcomb was tagged for six runs on six hits and one walk with four strikeouts in a game the Braves came back to win 11-10.
“It’s a total thing. It’s not just go out and have two or three good innings,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker told reporters of Newcomb. “A good outing is what you’re looking for and you have to put an end on it. He wasn’t able to do it.”
Newcomb has two career appearances against the Blue Jays, both in relief a year ago. He threw 2 2/3 innings and allowed one run on one hit and three walks with four strikeouts.
Ryu, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, will make his third start in search of his first win with his new team. His last start came Thursday against the Washington Nationals, when he pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed five runs on nine hits and one walk, striking out five.
“I could have changed my game plan a little bit and made in-game adjustments,” Ryu said. “Maybe they were sitting on breaking balls and off-speed pitches. I could have made some changes, looking back it, but things didn’t go the way I’d hoped for.”
Ryu was 1-1 against the Braves last year when he pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers, which included a complete-game shutout on May 7. He is 1-2 with a 2.73 ERA in five career starts against Atlanta.
The Braves are not having trouble scoring runs. Dansby Swanson is batting .340 and is tied for the National League lead in RBIs with 13. Ronald Acuna Jr., who was off to a slow start and was hitting .152 at the end of July, reached base four times on Tuesday and lifted his average to .250.
The Blue Jays got center fielder Randal Grichuk back from a balky back Tuesday and he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in Toronto’s 10-1 loss to Atlanta.
–Field Level Media