ATLANTA -- Braves manager Brian Snitker said earlier this week he hoped Dallas Keuchel would make his season debut in Friday night’s game at Nationals Park. It became set when the Braves added him to their active roster Friday morning.
Keuchel spent eight months on the free-agent market before signing a one-year, $13 million deal with the Braves on June 7. The 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner will enter his debut having made just two Minor League starts since signing. But he spent the past couple months training and throwing simulated games in California.
The Braves were encouraged by the endurance Keuchel showed while throwing 101 pitches over seven innings for Double-A Mississippi on Saturday. The 31-year-old southpaw also threw 77 pitches during a near-perfect seven-inning stint for Class A Rome on June 10.
“He was in good shape when he signed and you could tell,” Snitker said. “He put the time in to put himself in this situation.”
Keuchel has posted a 3.77 ERA over the three seasons that have passed since he won the 2015 AL Cy Young Award. He produced a 3.74 ERA over 34 starts for the Astros last year, and he surrendered a .263 batting average and .704 OPS.
Newcomb played catch and went through other pregame preparations with Atlanta’s relievers Monday afternoon. Snitker said the southpaw could be available out of the bullpen as early as Wednesday.
“They wanted him to throw and go through the activities,” Snitker said. “He isn’t symptomatic and there aren’t any signs of anything going on, other than he’s sore where he got hit. He’s not under any restrictions at all.”
When Gausman was placed on the injured list last week, Keuchel still needed time to make another Minor League start. So the Braves assigned Newcomb to make what was always intended to be just a spot start Saturday.
Ender Inciarte has been cleared to resume all baseball activities for the first time since being placed on the injured list on May 15 with a lower back ailment, which the team has termed a lumbar strain.
Inciarte could begin a Minor League rehab assignment at some point next week and could be available to return to Atlanta’s roster a short time later. The three-time Gold Glove Award winner will not return to the starting lineup that has been strengthened by Austin Riley, who was promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett when Inciarte was placed on the injured list.
But the Braves are hopeful Inciarte’s ability to serve as a late-inning defensive replacement may enhance the value he could bring to the bench. His return could lead the team to option Johan Camargo, who has produced a .640 OPS over 129 plate appearances this year.
Huascar Ynoa made a good first impression when he surrendered just one hit over the two scoreless innings he completed while making his debut in Sunday’s 15-1 win over the Phillies. The 21-year-old right-hander’s fastball touched 98.9 mph and five of the 11 sliders he threw resulted in a swinging strike.
But because they needed a fresh arm, the Braves optioned Ynoa Monday and recalled left-handed reliever Grant Dayton.
“[Ynoa] is a little raw, but there’s some legit stuff there,” Snitker said. “The quality of the pitches was pretty impressive.”