Newcomb, Mike Foltynewicz and Mike Soroka were all able to pitch against live hitters this week, David O'Brien of The Athletic reports. In an interview with Foltynewicz, the right-hander indicated the trio has been getting together regularly to play catch and keep arms loose at a high school near the players' homes in the Atlanta area, but Tuesday they were joined by Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies and Charlie Culberson. Each pitcher tossed three simulated innings of about 15 pitches against his teammates, a step up in intensity from the twice-a-week bullpens each has been throwing. Foltynewicz estimated he and the other pitchers in the group are 75-80 percent stretched out and would need about two weeks of a second training camp to be ready for the regular season, whenever it might begin. Newcomb, who was locked in a battle with Felix Hernandez for the No. 5 starter spot when spring training was suspended, would likely be a key part of the Atlanta staff in a compacted schedule even if he isn't getting a regular turn in the rotation.
Newcomb allowed three hits and two walks over four scoreless innings while striking out four in Sunday's Grapefruit League game against the Yankees. Facing a lineup that included plenty of experienced big leaguers, if not the Yankees' top stars, Newcomb breezed through his four frames, letting only one baserunner even reach second base. The southpaw has posted a 2.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and impressive 11:2 K:BB through nine innings to put himself at the front of the pack in the race for one of Atlanta's open rotation spots.
Newcomb is considered a "leading candidate" for one of the two remaining openings in the Braves' Opening Day rotation, David O'Brien of The Athletic reports. Only one spot appeared to be up for grabs entering spring training, but another has since opened up with Cole Hamels (shoulder) bound for the injured list after having yet to even initiate a throwing program. Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson and Touki Toussaint also remain in the mix for starting jobs along with non-roster invitee Felix Hernandez, but Newcomb is viewed as a frontrunner for a back-end rotation spot based on his performance so far this spring, as well as his more extensive work at the big-league level than the other three young arms. After submitting an up-and-down outing in his spring debut, Newcomb bounced back in impressive fashion Monday, permitting only two hits and no walks over three innings while fanning three.
Newcomb got the start in Wednesday's Grapefruit League game against the Orioles, allowing two runs on three hits over two innings with four strikeouts, Gabriel Burns of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The southpaw had a rough first inning, as both runs came home after a passed ball and wild pitch, but he rebounded to strike out the side in the second. Newcomb is in the mix for one of the two available spots in Atlanta's Opening Day rotation, but his success last year after being moved to the bullpen could mean he's only being stretched out this spring in case the team's other options for the rotation falter.
Newcomb will stretch out this offseason to compete for a spot in Atlanta's starting rotation in spring training, David O'Brien of The Athletic reports. The left-hander began 2019 in the Braves' starting rotation, but he was shipped to Triple-A after surrendering six runs in 12.1 innings over his first three starts. Newcomb returned to the majors in May and pitched out of the bullpen the rest of the season -- though he did make one spot start -- and delivered a 2.89 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 60:21 K:BB across 56 frames as a reliever. Whether the Braves make any free-agent acquisitions will also factor into Newcomb's chances of cracking the 2020 rotation.
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