Six-man rotation would mean more Newcomb

June 17th, 2017

ATLANTA -- As the Braves prepare to give a chance to make at least one more start, they are leaning toward temporarily using a six-man rotation to accommodate the 44-year-old's return from the disabled list next week.

But there's certainly not any reason to fret about the potential longevity of the six-man rotation that has been proposed. There's a good chance this arrangement is used for just one turn. This would allow to maintain the big league roster spot he has earned and provide Colon the decency to make at least one more start to prove whether he has anything left in the tank.

"We'll start with [the six-man rotation] and then see where we go," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I don't think we're committing to it for an extended period. But it's just kind of like you've got to start somewhere in that situation, and we'll deal with it as we go."

There's certainly no reason to debate whether Newcomb should remain in the rotation. Though he wasn't as sharp as he'd been during last weekend's Major League debut against the Mets, the heralded left-handed prospect certainly made another good impression as he allowed three runs over six innings in Friday night's 5-0 loss to the Marlins at SunTrust Park.

As for Colon, there will certainly be some Braves fans who will continue to object to the plan of him starting Wednesday night's game against the Giants. He owned a Major League-worst 7.78 ERA when he was placed on the 10-day DL last week with what was termed a strained left oblique muscle. But as Colon progresses through his 20th Major League season with the one-year $12.5 million deal he signed in November, the Braves feel they owe him at least one more chance to prove himself.

If Colon pitches effectively in his next start, there's a chance he could draw another outing or possibly some trade interest from the Mets, an organization that still loves him and might be willing to take a flier on a deal that could aid their injury-depleted starting rotation.

If Colon's struggles continue, the Braves will have to decide whether to move him to the bullpen or possibly release him.

When Colon landed on the DL, it opened a rotation spot for Newcomb, who has exceeded expectations as he has proven to be much more consistent with his command than anticipated. He has allowed four runs (three earned) over 12 1/3 innings with Atlanta and has issued just five unintentional walks, three of which came during his sixth and final inning on Friday night.

Newcomb showed the Braves some moxie as he limited the Marlins to just one run despite two soft singles and three walks in the frame. With the bases loaded and nobody out, he impressed Snitker with the aggression he showed against J.T. Realmuto, who grounded into a double play.

"You just never know what to expect or how guys are going to respond," Snitker said. "Early on with a small sample size, he's responded very well. He's been very composed. He doesn't look like he's awestruck in any way."