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Newcomb continues impressive spring

Lefty hopes more aggressive approach, sharper breaking ball command will solidify rotation spot
Special to MLB.com

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb continued the string of strong outings by Atlanta starters on Tuesday.

Newcomb solidified his bid for a spot in the Braves' rotation by throwing three strong innings in a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays at Dunedin Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. The big southpaw picked up the victory after he allowed one run -- on one hit and a walk -- while striking out two. This spring, Atlanta's starters have combined to allow just four earned runs in 30 2/3 innings through the first 13 games of the Grapefruit League season.

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DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb continued the string of strong outings by Atlanta starters on Tuesday.

Newcomb solidified his bid for a spot in the Braves' rotation by throwing three strong innings in a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays at Dunedin Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. The big southpaw picked up the victory after he allowed one run -- on one hit and a walk -- while striking out two. This spring, Atlanta's starters have combined to allow just four earned runs in 30 2/3 innings through the first 13 games of the Grapefruit League season.

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"He threw some good behind-the-count breaking balls, even-in-the-count breaking balls," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "His fastball had good life, and he threw some really good changeups."

Newcomb looked especially strong early, retiring six of the first seven batters he faced. He nearly got Josh Donaldson to bite on a 2-2 changeup in the first before eventually walking the Jays' slugger.

Newcomb's only mistake was leaving a 1-1 fastball over the inner half of the plate against Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez with one out in the third inning. Hernandez was able to take advantage of the mistake -- with the aid of gusting winds blowing directly out to left field -- by lofting a long fly ball over the left-center wall.

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"I would have liked to get that fastball that he hit out a little in more, but he's got some quick hands," Newcomb said. "He just got to it and got it up in the air. It was just one of those days where the balls were flying a little bit."

Newcomb is one of four pitchers along with Luiz Gohara, Max Fried and veteran Scott Kazmir competing for the final two slots in the rotation. Last season, Newcomb made 19 starts for Atlanta, going 4-9 with a 4.32 ERA in his rookie campaign. He had 108 strikeouts in his 100 innings, but also allowed 57 walks.

Consistent control with his secondary pitches has been one of his main goals this spring. Newcomb was especially pleased with his curveball, which he was able to use in just about every count on Tuesday.

"It's starting to come back into tune, and I'm able to get it in for a strike when I want to more," Newcomb said. "That, and my aggressiveness kind of go hand in hand. I've been trying to turn it up a little bit, even though it is kind of hard to for these spring games a lot of time, but it does help."

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com.

Atlanta Braves, Sean Newcomb