Despite strong start, Braves’ Newcomb looks to avoid history Wednesday

Sean Newcomb of the Braves pitches against the Miami Marlins at SunTrust Park on June 16, 2017 in Atlanta. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Sean Newcomb of the Braves pitches against the Miami Marlins at SunTrust Park on June 16, 2017 in Atlanta. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Maybe the third time’s a charm for Sean Newcomb.

That is, the time he finally gets some run support. Sporting a 2.19 ERA over 12 1/3 innings, Newcomb is 0-2. The Braves haven’t scored a run with him on the mound. As a result, Newcomb takes the mound Wednesday searching for his first major league win.

Newcomb is the first pitcher since Jacob deGrom (2014) — and first in Braves history — to lose his first two starts despite quality outings. If he does so a third time, he’d become the first pitcher since the St. Louis Browns’ Nels Potters in 1947 to lose three quality starts to begin a career.

His first time out, Newcomb left after 6 1/3 innings without giving up an earned run. He wasn’t as dominant in his second go, but contained a hot Marlins lineup to three runs over six, clawing through a few trouble spots in the process.

“He went out there and kept the ball down, did a great job,” Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips said after Newcomb’s last start. “For him to be a young kid and just pitching the way he’s pitching — I don’t know if he was throwing 100; I don’t know what’s up with that radar gun out there, that’s crazy — but he pitched his butt off, man. It was nice to see, but it sucks that the bats didn’t get going. … He did a great job and didn’t have much to show for it.”

Newcomb’s immediate success is a godsend to what’s been an uninspiring Braves rotation, stunted by players such as Julio Teheran and Bartolo Colon performing below their career averages. As the organization has frequently stated, Newcomb is pioneering the next wave of up-and-comers.

“It’s been a little adjustment from Triple-A,” he said. “I don’t think it’s been as big as some people make it out to be. Definitely better hitters throughout the lineup. But down there, you’ve seen a lot of good quality hitters, a lot of pitching. Up here, it’s the best of the best, so you’ve got to make sure you’re a little more refined in everything that you do. It hasn’t been too big of an adjustment so far. I’m sure there’s going to be some times coming up where I’ll have to adjust more, but it’s going good so far.”

Newcomb's start will come a day earlier than expected, with the news that Colon will remain on the disabled list. As of late Tuesday afternoon, Newcomb hadn't received official word that he'd go Wednesday.

“It’s something we’ve talked about,” he said moments after Braves manager Brian Snitker confirmed Colon was scratched.

That doesn’t change Newcomb’s routine. He was a little lighter on his arm. He studied the Giants lineup shortly before Tuesday’s game. San Francisco has dropped to 26-46 entering Tuesday, but Newcomb didn’t have any thoughts on their struggles. He pointed out Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and others will be challenging regardless.

He hasn’t been in the clubhouse for even two weeks, but Newcomb has soaked up the knowledge of several veteran pitchers, especially fellow lefty Jaime Garcia.

“Just talking to them, getting some ideas about how to go about some hitters,” Newcomb said. “I think Jaime is a good person to talk to because we’re both lefties who use a fastball, couple different breaking balls and a change-up. When you have some similarities, it makes it a little easier to relate. But definitely having that experience around you, just to hear them. It’s been a huge help so far having R.A. (Dickey), Julio, Jaime, Bartolo around. It’s been good.”

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