Newcomb will fill Gausman’s rotation spot when he starts Saturday night’s game against the Phillies. The left-hander earned the opportunity when he extended his bullpen success with the strong 4 2/3 innings he provided after Gausman produced a third consecutive shaky start in Monday’s 13-7 win over the Pirates.
But it remains unclear how long Newcomb might remain in the rotation. Saturday’s outing might essentially serve as a spot start. Keuchel is expected to start for Double-A Mississippi on Saturday and then possibly join Atlanta’s rotation for the June 21 series opener at Nationals Park.
While it was clear Gausman would not take his next turn, the plan moving forward was not revealed until Tuesday afternoon, when the veteran starter was placed on the injured list with plantar fasciitis. His roster spot will be filled by former closer A.J. Minter, who spent the past six weeks regaining his confidence while pitching for Triple-A Gwinnett.
Here is a brief review of each of these Atlanta pitchers who created news on Tuesday:
Newcomb: Newcomb has produced a 1.42 ERA and issued just two walks over 19 innings since returning from Gwinnett. The left-hander has repeatedly said the demotion irked and motivated him to prove he could indeed halt the command issues that have plagued him throughout his career.
Whatever the case, Newcomb has looked much different than he did while issuing eight walks and surrendering 15 hits over the 12 1/3 innings logged in the three starts that preceded his demotion. His ability throw his curveball for strikes much more consistently has allowed him to finally start showing the promise projected when he was a top prospect. He has been a key asset in the bullpen and may return to that role. But this start will at least provide a glimpse of what value he could provide back in the rotation.
Minter: When Minter was demoted, he had a 9.82 ERA through 11 innings (15 appearances). His two-pitch repertoire (four-seamer and cutter) was not effective and he was not the same confident reliever who struck out 43.3 percent of the batters he faced over 16 appearances in 2017.
Minter recorded 15 strikeouts, issued two walks and posted a 2.53 ERA over 10 2/3 innings for Gwinnett. In the process, he further developed his changeup, which he now considers to be his best pitch.
Gausman: The veteran right-hander will attempt to follow Minter’s lead once he is cleared to begin a rehab assignment, which could help restore the confidence that has been shattered as he has allowed 25 hits and 17 earned runs over his past 8 1/3 innings (three starts). He has talked about his desire to regain a feel for his slider, a pitch he used 14 percent of the time last year.
This year, Gausman has shied away from the breaking ball and primarily used just his four-seam fastball and splitter.