Sean Newcomb strives to achieve All-Star dream

Sean Newcomb is realizing his ace potential sooner than most expected. And his rapid development may ticket him for the All-Star game in Washington next month.

Newcomb, 25, had a 2.92 ERA with 74 strikeouts against 35 walks through fourteen starts entering Saturday. He extended his brilliance with six shut-out innings in the Braves’ 1-0 win over the Padres.

He’s exceeded even an optimist’s expectations, and is at the front line of one of the better rotations in the majors.

With All-Star speculation ramping up, the Braves’ emerging dual-aces Newcomb and teammate Mike Foltynewicz are often mentioned.

“It’s a testament to how hard we’ve worked in the offseason and this season,” Newcomb said. “Just staying consistent, continue throwing the ball and not worrying about what happened last time. It’s been working out really well. Coming into the year, our hopes were high. I don’t know that they were necessarily that high, but we’ll take it.”

The definition of ace is subjective; the definition of a stopper is not.

Newcomb has excelled when following a team loss, going 6-0 with a 1.35 ERA, including Saturday’s outing. That ERA is third-lowest in the league in such circumstances among starters who’ve followed at least four losses. Newcomb ranks behind Jacob deGrom (0.99), Johnny Cueto (1.08).

Despite allowing five runs against the Dodgers in his past start, Newcomb’s recent play has still been exceptional. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start since April 26, and has allowed two or fewer in seven of his last eight starts.

“It goes both ways,” Newcomb said of responding after a lackluster outing. “After you have a good one, you’ve got to be able to clear it. Look towards the next one and not worry about it or worry about what you did. Just go out and treat it as a new thing, whether you have a bad one or a good one.”

Newcomb’s a significant reason why the rotation’s 3.35 ERA entered the day the fourth-best in the bigs.

“That’s what you’re looking to do, go out there and make a great start,” Newcomb said. “Everyone around you has made a great start and you need to go out there and repeat it. That’s how it’s been going. Everyone’s been throwing the ball well.”

The lefty has held left-handed hitters to a .178 average, while limiting righties to a .218 mark. He saw a 44-inning homerless streak snapped by Logan Forsythe in Los Angeles.

Newcomb had an 11-start run, beginning April 8 in Colorado, in which he posted a 7-0 mark with a 1.96 ERA. In May, Newcomb produced a 1.54 ERA, and the Braves won five of his six starts.

Catchers Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki have been vital to his development. But Newcomb expressed gratitude toward veterans Brandon McCarthy, Anibal Sanchez and Julio Teheran as well.

“They’re great,” he said. “They’ve both been around and pitched for a long time. Even Julio, he’s only 27, but he’s still a veteran who’s been around for a while. Being able to watch them, see how they go about their daily routine and getting here early. Everything’s so consistent. It’s something that clearly works.”

Newcomb fueled the Braves’ surprise start, and he’d love to see himself in Washington on July 17.

“It’s hard not to (think about the All-Star game) when everyone’s talking about it,” he said. “You see the banners everywhere. It’s something cool to think about, something cool to strive for. But it’s not something I think about start-to-start. Just something cool to dream about.”