Sean Newcomb confident about return to Braves’ rotation Saturday

Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb will return to the starting rotation Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies, making his first start since April 13.

Newcomb, who’s made three starts this season, pitched well in relief after struggling as a starter. He’s allowed only three runs in his past nine appearances, while also recording 13 strikeouts.

Six of those strikeouts came Monday, when Newcomb completed 4-2/3 innings in a 13-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I felt like I was in a good spot since the spring, there was obviously that little lull right there, but I was able to kind of bounce back. … I’ve felt pretty strong since,” Newcomb said.

Newcomb’s time in the bullpen proved to be a good move for both him and the Braves. He recorded his first career save May 20 in a 4-1 win over the San Francisco Giants and became the first Braves pitcher to start multiple games and earn a save in the same season since Matt Wisler did so in 2016.

“It’s good to have some confidence,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Newcomb. “He’s been throwing the ball really well. The bullpen has been good for him, (and) it’s part of maturing as a player.”

Snitker said he’s noticed Newcomb’s mechanics have looked cleaner. His arm swing and rotation improved. Mentally, he appreciates Newcomb’s aggression out of the bullpen.

As for his start against the Phillies, Snitker said the plan for him will be dictated by the way the game goes. He doesn’t plan to have a pitch count.

Snitker’s approach to handling Newcomb is the same he uses for most of the young players on his team. The 26-year-old pitcher learned about himself while in the bullpen, which is what his manager wanted.

“It takes a while, for these young players, it takes repetitions, it takes games,” Snitker said. “The whole thing to experience it and learn how to do it.”