First impressions of Braves’ pitching in spring opener

Sean Newcomb is somewhat a forgotten man in the Braves’ pitching mix after a disappointing 2020. He was among those who followed Kyle Wright in the 9-7 loss to the Rays in the exhibition season opener in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Newcomb gave up a homer to the first hitter he faced, Mike Brosseau. He walked two of the next three Rays before ending the inning with his second strikeout. The frame concluded after just the second out, which managers have the power to do under MLB’s 2021 spring training rules.

Newcomb finished last season at the alternate training site in Gwinnett after the Braves optioned the hard-throwing but erratic lefthander following four disappointing starts.

“Newk’s stuff was good,” Snitker said. “You feel like Newk had limited exposure with us last year, this is his first time back in the competitive arena in a long time. That breaking ball has gotten better. Popped his fastball really good. Again, it’s getting them back out there.”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. pitched a 1-2-3 fourth, capped by striking out Wander Franco, baseball’s top prospect. It was the Braves’ only clean inning.

Edwards, a non-roster invitee the Braves signed in January, is competing for a spot in the Braves’ bullpen.

He was an electric reliever before injuries derailed him in recent seasons, so he provides a moderate amount of upside if healthy.

“Carl Edwards was really, really good,” Snitker said. If Edwards maintains Sunday’s excellence, he’ll play himself into the Braves’ opening-day bullpen.