Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Newcomb skipped as Snitker opts for hot hands

Lefty, who has struggled of late, will be available out of bullpen vs. Phillies
September 21, 2018

ATLANTA -- Braves manager Brian Snitker didn't mince words when asked why he decided to skip Sean Newcomb's start during this weekend's series against the Phillies. But he also indicated Newcomb will make another regular-season start and possibly still factor into discussions about the postseason rotation."We just wanted to go

ATLANTA -- Braves manager Brian Snitker didn't mince words when asked why he decided to skip Sean Newcomb's start during this weekend's series against the Phillies. But he also indicated Newcomb will make another regular-season start and possibly still factor into discussions about the postseason rotation.
"We just wanted to go with the guys who have the hotter hands really," Snitker said. "We'll stick [Newcomb] in the bullpen for the rest of the homestand. After that, we'll regroup and see where we're at."
Recognizing the opportunity to clinch the National League East during this weekend's series against the Phillies, the Braves opted to have Kevin Gausman, Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Anibal Sanchez serve as their starters.
Newcomb, who has a 7.44 ERA over his past seven starts, had been lined up to start Saturday. Foltynewicz (Saturday's starter) and Sanchez (Sunday's starter) were moved up a day. Both will be on regular rest.
"I don't think [Newcomb] needs a break, he just wasn't pitching that great," Snitker said. "I talked to him about that and just told him we were going to go with the other guys. We just wanted to go with the guys that were going a little better."
Over the past week, a popular question has centered around whether the Braves would be more likely to leave Teheran or Newcomb off their postseason roster. The fact they didn't skip Teheran during this series might provide some indication, which way the team might lean.

But if Teheran and Newcomb do not impress over the season's final week, there will be further reason to wonder if Touki Toussaint might fill the fourth spot in the four-man playoff rotation.
Toussaint has made just four career starts. But if the rookie right-hander impresses during his final regular-season start next week, he could add further intrigue to the situation.
While Toussaint would be a candidate to be placed on the playoff roster as a long reliever, the Braves do not seem to envision Newcomb or Teheran filling that role. So the roster candidacy for both likely hinges on being placed in the rotation.
"We're still talking about things," Snitker said. "I just want to focus on winning tonight."
Bullpen picture
If Arodys Vizcaino and Chad Sobotka continue pitching like they did while combining to cover the final two innings of Thursday's win over the Phillies, both could find themselves placed on the postseason roster.
Vizcaino's right shoulder certainly looked fine as he touched 98.5 mph and flashed his wicked slider during a perfect eighth inning. Now the former closer must prove his shoulder can favorably respond in a manner that would give Snitker comfort to carry him on the postseason roster. He will likely pitch on consecutive days at least once before the regular season concludes.
Sobotka has made just 11 career appearances, but he looked like a legit high-leverage option as he recorded three strikeouts during an 11-pitch ninth inning. The 25-year-old right-hander touched 98.4 mph with his fastball and threw six sliders, three of which resulted in a swing and miss and two that were called strikes.
"If you pitch like that, it's kind of hard to ignore because he was really good," Snitker said. "He threw strikes and attacked the hitters. His stuff was really good."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.