Sean Newcomb’s debut Saturday is a big deal. That’s not to say his future is riding on one start — far from it. But the Braves need Newcomb to show he’s ready for the big leagues, assuming this isn’t just a cameo. Struggles are to be expected but an outright flop would slow the rebuild.
As well as they’ve pitched in Double-A, management can’t afford to rush Kolby Allard or Mike Soroka. They’re still only 19 years old; Allard has thrown only 159 professional innings.
So the Braves need Folty to continue his progress and Newcomb to at least shows signs that he belongs if the franchise is going to contend by next season (though 2019 is more realistic). That’ll require command he’s yet to show in the minors (5.2 BB/9 IP this season).
If Newcomb bombs Coppy will have to answer for a trade that I’ve never liked, especially with Andrelton demonstrating major improvement at the plate. Simmons, who has never walked more than 40 times in a season, is already more than halfway to that total. He’s hitting for more power (6 HR, .401 slugging) as well while maintaining a low strikeout rate.
Combine that with Andrelton’s sublime defense and you have a player that, according to WAR, has provided more value in 2017 than Kris Bryant or Mookie Betts.
That places a lot of pressure on Newcomb. Let’s hope the lumbering lefty is up to the challenge.