Atlanta Braves: With Hamels injury, is Newcomb a lock for the starting rotation?
Another shot at the rotation?
This offseason, the Atlanta Braves made it clear that Sean Newcomb, still an arm of great potential would have a chance to win the fifth starter role. He’ll be in competition with veteran Felix Hernandez and a few young arms – Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson and Touki Toussaint among them.
Newcomb and other competitors now have a leg up. It appears another spot in the rotation will be open, at least, to start the season as Cole Hamels reported shoulder soreness from offseason workouts. Brian Snitker confirmed that he would miss the start of the season, but optimism is abound that it won’t be anything more serious.
So, that means that two spots in the rotation are open for now. Hamels, unless seriously injured will result in someone being optioned to the minor leagues when he returns, or a corresponding disabled list move- but we don’t want that outcome.
What about the bullpen?
However, unlike the others named in the group, Newcomb has the insurance policy of being one of two left-handed arms that could/will serve in the bullpen. The other is Will Smith, the Atlanta Braves’ presumptive closer.
So, as an Atlanta Braves fans, I wouldn’t mind seeing a King Felix reemergence and someone like Kyle Wright getting in the rotation to start the season. That’s because Newcomb in the bullpen provides another left-hander who’s ultra talented.
Newcomb is perhaps one of the Atlanta Braves’ most interesting arms. Either way, he’ll need to find a role. Some fans have said that the big lefty is entering a make or break season. I don’t necessarily think that’s the case, as his versatility and stretches of success in both roles make him a candidate to get as many opportunities as the Atlanta Braves can afford.
Sean Newcomb 2020 prediction: I don’t think we’ll see a a lot of back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen. Ultimately, the bullpen is where pitchers go when they can’t cut it as a starter – not always, but this would be the case for Newk.
I’ll say he’s staying in the rotation. I’ll put him at 13 wins, a 3.30 ERA and 170 strikeouts over 160 IP. If he can limit his walks, his numbers will be even better.