Tag Archives: Sean Newcomb

NL East Division position comparison: bullpens

My evaluation of the National League East Division teams has moved on from the position players to a ranking of the pitching staffs of each ball club. I began earlier today with a look at the projected starting rotations. Now, the bullpens will undergo that same evaluation and ranking.

The performance and even the make up of Major League Baseball bullpens are extremely difficult to evaluate at this time of year. Many teams enter spring training with as many as half of their projected relief pitcher spots up for grabs. Injuries will also take their toll on the relievers, both in the spring and then during the season.

As I evaluate each club, I will list the handful of arms that I feel are most likely to be impactful for that team during the season. This will include the projected closer as well as any quality setup and match-up arms.

I will give mention during the team write-up to any pitchers who could begin the season in the bullpen, but who may ultimately end up impacting the rotation as starting pitchers due to injuries. In parentheses after their names you will find a designation for whether they are left- or right-handed.

Combine the starting pitching rankings from earlier today with these bullpen rankings, add them to the examinations of each of the other positions around the diamond which took place over the previous ten days, and you will get a good idea of where each team stands entering spring training.

Early next week, I will take a look at the managers, giving them that same evaluation and ranking treatment. Pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater, Florida on February 11, just 10 days from now, for the opening of Phillies spring training.

NL EAST – 2020 BULLPEN RANKINGS

  1. Atlanta Braves: Mark Melancon (R), Will Smith (L), Shane Greene (R), Sean Newcomb (L), Darren O’Day (R), Luke Jackson (R), Chris Martin (R), A.J. Minter (L), Touki Toussaint (R), Jacob Webb (R)

The two-time defending NL East Division champion Braves possess an embarrassment of pitching riches. That extends to their bullpen group. Smith is an especially solid addition as a southpaw, signing as  free agent back in November after two strong seasons in San Francisco, including an NL All-Star season a year ago. Right-hander Patrick Weigel could emerge from the minors this season to help out if needed. The Braves also have veteran Felix Hernandez and youngsters Kyle Wright Bryse Wilson competing for the fifth-starter job. Any or all of them could impact the bullpen if not being used in the rotation at the majors or at Triple-A. There is still more pitching depth nearly ready among their top prospect group. Atlanta appears to be well-insulated from any type of pitching injury issues.

2) New York Mets: Edwin Diaz (R), Dellin Betances (R), Seth Lugo (R), Jeurys Familia (R), Justin Wilson (L), Robert Gsellman (R), Paul Sewald (L)

It would be hard for me to believe that young closer Diaz, who turns 26 during spring training, won’t bounce back from a somewhat down season in 2019. Even during a year where his ERA ballooned to 5.59 and his WHIP to 1.379, Diaz had a 15.4 K/9 rate and a 99/22 K/BB ratio across 58 innings. If he cannot beat out Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello for a starting rotation nod, Steven Matz will contribute out of the pen as well. Betances, Lugo, and Familia all have closer stuff. Wilson is leaned on heavily as a southpaw arm. He could get help in that regard from prospect David Peterson during the season. The health of former Yankees stud Betances, who turns 29 during spring training, will go a long way towards the New York pen maintaining this ranking during the season.

3) Philadelphia Phillies: Hector Neris (R), Seranthony Dominguez (R), Jose Alvarez (L), Francisco Liriano (L), Adam Morgan (L), Bud Norris (R), Victor Arano (R), Ranger Suarez (L), Robert Stock (R)

The Phillies bullpen has the potential to finish anywhere from second to fourth on this list by the end of the 2020 season, which can also be said for the Mets and Nationals relief group. If I had more confidence in Dominguez being and remaining healthy for the full season, I might even have ranked them ahead of New York already. New skipper Joe Girardi has a ton of arms with which to work and to sort out during spring training. Those could ultimately include arms like Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Cole Irvin, and Enyel De Los Santos, all of whom will try to win the fifth starter job at the outset. The Phillies might have  the deepest selection of lefty relievers in the division. If only they had a strong starting southpaw for their rotation. If the team can stay in contention, they just might finally get some value out of David Robertson late in the season. They also bought a lottery ticket in former Nats closer Drew Storen this winter.

4) Washington Nationals: Sean Doolittle (L), Will Harris (R), Daniel Hudson (R), Roenis Elias (L), Wander Suero (R), Tanner Rainey (R), Hunter Strickland (R), Ryne Harper (R), Javy Guerra (R)

The bullpen was a problem, perhaps the only real problem, for Washington during much of the 2019 season. Recognizing that fact and not wishing to go down that road again they inked free agent righty Will Harris. The Nats also re-signed free agent Daniel Hudson, who was outstanding after coming over in an early-August trade from Toronto last year. Hudson is forever etched in Nationals history after recording the final out in their World Series victory. A trio of youngsters vying for the fifth starter job – Joe Ross, Erick Fedde, and Austin Voth – could also impact the bullpen. If they use Doolittle as the closer, the rest of the pen lacks an impact southpaw, where Elias is likely to be asked to handle the load, at least initially. Prospect arm Seth Romero could ultimately be the answer in that role.

5) Miami Marlins: Brandon Kintzler (R), Drew Steckenrider (R), Jose Urena (R), Jarlin Garcia (L), Ryne Stanek (R), Tayron Guerrero (R), Yimi Garcia (R), Adam Conley (L), Jose Quijada (L)

The Fish signed the 35-year-old Kintzler last week to serve as the closer, allowing a talented group of young arms more time to develop in the setup and match-up roles earlier in games. This is indeed a talented, albeit largely inexperienced, bullpen crew. When top prospect Sixto Sanchez is ready it will bump someone, likely either Elieser Hernandez or Pablo Lopez, to the pen. If enough of these pitchers take a step forward, the Miami bullpen could quickly become a legitimate strength and begin to shoot up these rankings.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

Getting to be gut-check time early for the 2019 Philadelphia Phillies

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Phillies in desperate need of a gut-check win at SunTrust Park 

To call the Philadelphia Phillies (38-31) loss on Friday night to the Atlanta Braves (41-29) simply frustrating would be an understatement. The host Braves rallied from a five-run deficit entering the bottom of the 7th and a two-run deficit entering the bottom of the 9th to a walkoff, 9-8 victory over the Phillies.

The victory was an eighth straight for the surging Braves. It was also their 11th win in their last 13 games, and raised their record to 23-9 since the club fell two games below the .500 mark back on May 9.
On that day, the Braves were four games behind the first-place Phillies in the standings. But now, after turning their season around and after sending the visiting Phillies to their own fourth loss in five games, the Braves have pushed to the top of the NL East Division and hold a 2.5 game lead.

The Phillies now hold just a two game lead on both the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamonbacks, and a 2.5 game lead on the Saint Louis Cardinals, for the final National League Wildcard playoff spot.
Perhaps more important than worrying about the postseason, however, is winning right now. The Phillies are reeling, and all of the Pollyanna positive-thought talk from manager Gabe Kapler or anyone else in the organization isn’t going to change that fact.
This 2019 Phillies ball club has reached gut-check point. The club has gone just 5-9 over the last two weeks since a rousing 11-4 win over Saint Louis at Citizens Bank Park on May 29 pushed them to 11 games over the .500 mark and a 3.5 game division lead.
Can the Phillies regain whatever mojo allowed them to repeatedly overcome their inconsistencies to produce victories over the season’s first two months? Or are the multi-talented defending NL East champion Braves simply too much for them? Are the Braves just a better team? Could this Saturday night game at SunTrust Park in Atlanta possibly be a must-win game already, as we reach the exact mid-point in June?

SATURDAY STARTING LINEUPS

(TO BE UPDATED WHEN ANNOUNCED)

PHILLIES
  1. Jean Segura SS
  2. Bryce Harper RF
  3. J.T. Realmuto C
  4. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  5. Jay Bruce LF
  6. Scott Kingery CF
  7. Sean Rodriguez 3B
  8. Cesar Hernandez 2B
  9. Aaron Nola P
BRAVES
  1. Ronald Acuna Jr.CF
  2. Dansby Swanson SS
  3. Freddie Freeman 1B
  4. Josh Donaldson 3B
  5. Nick Markakis RF
  6. Austin Riley LF
  7. Ozzie Albies 2B
  8. Tyler Flowers C
  9. Sean Newcomb P

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

PHILLIES – Aaron Nola: 6-1, 4.58 ERA, 1.487 WHIP, 80 hits over 76.2 IP across 14 starts with an 86/34 K:BB. Nola finished third in last year’s NL Cy Young Award voting but has produced a roller-coaster of results here in 2019. He is coming off a solid 6.2-inning outing against Cincinnati six days ago at home in a 4-3 Phillies loss. He beat the Braves on Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park, going 6 innings and allowing just one run on two hits with eight strikeouts.
BRAVES – Sean Newcomb: 1-0, 2.59 ERA, 1.340 WHIP, 32 hits over 31.1 IP across 19 games (3 starts) with a 26/10 K:BB. Newcomb is a 26-year-old left-hander who was the first round pick at 15th overall of the Los Angeles Angels in the 2014 MLB Draft. He came to the Braves in a five-player deal back in November 2015 in which Andrelton Simmons went to LA. He began the season in the Atlanta rotation, but was removed after three starts and sent to Triple-A. He returned quickly and made 17 appearances out of the bullpen. This will mark his return to the rotation, and reports are that he is likely to be limited to 75-80 pitches.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • The Braves eight-game winning streak marks the first time they have enjoyed one this long since May of 2013. It is also the longest winning streak by any National League team in the 2019 season to this point. As a contrast, the longest winning streak that the Phillies have enjoyed is one four-gamer.
  • Atlanta has now defeated the Phillies in six straight games at home.
  • The Braves 23-9 hot stretch can be directly traced to May 10, the day that manager Brian Snitker moved dynamic young outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year, into the leadoff spot in his batting order. Acuna has slashed .298/.361/.511 with eight homers, 14 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs, and 22 runs scored out of the leadoff spot since that time.
  • The last three days have marked the first time that Atlanta has been atop the NL East standings this year. Prior to that, the Phillies had spent all but seven days of the 2019 regular season in first place. A year ago on their way to a division crown, the Braves spent 108 days alone in first place.
  • Three home runs last night gave Atlanta 103 on the season. That is three more than the club hit in the entire 2015 season. The franchise record is 235, set back in 2003, and they are currently on pace to blow past that mark.
  • The Braves won the 2018 NL East crown largely by defeating their divisional rivals, going 49-27 within the division. This season, Atlanta has played just 19 games within the division, the least against divisional rivals of any team in baseball. They are now 11-8 against the east in the 2019 season following Friday night’s victory.

INJURY REPORT

PHILLIES: Finally beginning to get some good news on the health front. Edubray Ramos returned to the bullpen this week. Reliever Pat Neshek and center fielder Roman Quinn could return this weekend. Adam Morgan is expected to begin a rehab assignment next week. David Robertson and Tommy Hunter could be back within a month. Adam Haseley suffered a groin strain and can come off the IL on Monday, but may return to the minor leagues at that point with Quinn due to return. Reliever Seranthony Dominguez will rehab and may be able to avoid TJ surgery, but remains out for the foreseeable future. Outfielder Andrew McCutchen had successful knee surgery this week and will return for 2020 spring training.
BRAVES: Center fielder Ender Inciarte remains out with a lumbar strain and has no timetable for a return at this point. Starting pitcher Kevin Gausman was placed on the IL earlier this week suffering from plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Righty reliever Darren O’Day has a right forearm strain and is on the 60-day IL as of June 7.

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Phillies visit Braves for a June 2019 first-place showdown series

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Phillies visit SunTrust Park for big series with Braves

The Philadelphia Phillies (38-30) sat alone at the top of the National League East Division standings for seven straight weeks, covering every day from April 25 through last weekend.

Losses in eight of their last 13 games, including three of their four games so far this week, opened the door for the Atlanta Braves (40-29) to make a move.
The Braves took full advantage, winning 10 of their last 12 to surge past the Phillies and into first place in the division. Atlanta is now riding a seven-game winning streak.
The two rivals will meet for the second time this year over the weekend, and the NL East Division lead will be directly on the line. The site will be SunTrust Park in Atlanta this time, after the Phillies swept the Braves out of Citizens Bank Park in the season’s very first series back in late March.
The Braves have performed far better statistically in the 2019 season. Their 5.17 runs-per-game ranks fifth in the National League, while the Phillies 4.87 is the league’s seventh-ranked mark. At the plate, the Braves out-rank the Phillies in OPS (4-9), home runs (5-11), and stolen bases (8-15) in the NL.

On the mound among the 15 NL teams, the Braves out-rank the Phillies in batting average against (7-13) and OPS against (9-13), though Phillies hurlers have a slightly better ERA.
The Phillies just got reliever Edubray Ramos back from the Injured List, and hope to have reliever Pat Neshek and outfielder Roman Quinn back for this series.
This is an early gut-check for the Phillies. Struggling for the last couple of weeks, they now look up in the standings at their weekend hosts. They will have to listen to Braves fans doing the obnoxious ‘Tomahawk Chop’ any time the home team does anything positive. How the Phillies respond to this challenge over the next three days will reveal much about their own collective character.

ATLANTA BRAVES

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Freddie Freeman: The 10-year veteran first baseman is well on his way to a fourth NL All-Star nod, slashing .311/.401/.592 and leading the Braves with 18 homers, 37 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs, and 49 runs scored.
Nick Markakis: 35-year-old, 14-year big-league veteran right fielder is slashing .276/.368/.431 with 35 RBIs. He is second on the club with 43 runs scored.
Ronald Acuna Jr. The 21-year-old center fielder was last year’s NL Rookie of the Year and is not suffering a sophomore slump. He is slashing .285/.365/.493 and is second on the team with 15 homers and 45 RBIs and leads them with nine steals.
Dansby Swanson: 25-year-old shortstop has broken out with 13 homers, 27 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs, 42 runs scored, and six stolen bases.
Ozzie Albies: 22-year-old second baseman has 10 homers, 26 extra-base hits, 41 runs scored, and five steals.
Austin Riley: The NL’s Rookie of the Month for May, the 22-year-old rookie left fielder is hitting .290 with a .617 slugging percentage and has 10 homers and 29 RBIs even though he wasn’t called up until May 15.
Brian McCann: 35-year-old, 15-year big-league veteran catcher is the lefty side of an almost straight platoon. He is hitting .272 with five homers and 24 RBIs in just 134 plate appearances.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Josh Donaldson: A 33-year-old, nine-year big-league veteran third baseman, Donaldson signed a one-year, $23 million contract with the Braves as a free agent back in late November. The 2015 AL MVP while with the Toronto Blue Jays is a 3x American League All-Star and has a pair of Silver Slugger Awards on his mantlepiece.
Donaldson has been a bit of a disappointment with Atlanta, slashing just .236/.349/.419 with nine homers and 27 RBIs. After starring with the Blue Jays, Donaldson suffered through an injury-marred season a year ago and was dealt to the Cleveland Indians, helping the Tribe to the AL Central crown with a solid performance down the stretch.
There is every chance that Donaldson is simply a one-year rental for Atlanta, with Riley taking over at his own more natural position beginning next season. For now, having Donaldson bust out with anything resembling his former Toronto MVP form would be a major boost to the already dangerous Braves lineup.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

FRIDAY – Max Fried (25/L): 7-3, 3.75 ERA, 1.292 WHIP, 74 hits over 72 IP across 15 games (13 starts) with a 66/19 K:BB
SATURDAY – Sean Newcomb (26/L): 1-0, 2.59 ERA, 1.340 WHIP, 32 hits over 31.1 IP across 19 games (3 starts) with a 26/10 K:BB
SUNDAY – Mike Foltynewicz (27/R): 1-5, 6.02 ERA, 1.318 WHIP, 52 hits over 49.1 IP across nine starts with a 42/13 K:BB

KEY BENCH & BULLPEN PIECES

Tyler Flowers: splits the catching duties with McCann as the right-handed hitting half. Flowers has five homers and 11 extra-base hits over just 138 plate appearances.
Johan Camargo: 25-year-old was the Braves starting third baseman a year ago, but has become a utility player this year with the addition of Donaldson. He has been used at five different defensive positions and has 10 extra-base hits over 128 plate appearances.
Matt Joyce: 34-year-old, 12-year big-league veteran is a nice lefty bat off the bench with nine extra-base hits over just 75 plate appearances. He was a 2011 AL All-Star while with Tampa Bay.
Charlie Culberson: Utility man is slashing .354/.396/.625 over just 53 plate appearances with a half-dozen extra-base hits.
Luke Jackson: The 27-year-old righty has taken the Braves closer job and produced 10 saves with a 3.18 ERA and 1.235 WHIP. He has allowed 33 hits over 34 innings with a 49/9 K:BB ratio.
Josh Tomlin: Former starter with the Cleveland Indians, the 34-year-old, 10-year big-league veteran righty has allowed 31 hits over 35 innings across 23 appearances with a 22/3 K:BB.
A.J. Minter: Hard-throwing 25-year-old lefty could one day be the club’s closer. He was just activated earlier this week after spending nearly a month on the IL, and has struck out 18 over 13 innings this season.
Jacob Webb: 25-year-old right-hander has allowed 17 hits over 19.1 innings with a 20/10 K:BB.

THE SKIPPER

Brian Snitker is a 63-year-old who has been in the Braves organization in one role or another for more than four decades, starting as a player and winding through the minor league coaching ranks. He served as the Braves bullpen coach in the late-1980’s, and was their third base coach from 2007-13.
In May 2016, Snitker was named as the interim manager to replace Fredi Gonzalez, who was fired with the club in last place. Five months later he was named the full-time skipper and is now in his third full season at the helm. He guided the club to the NL East crown a year ago, losing in four games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in an NLDS.

THE BALLPARK

This is now the Braves third season playing at the ballpark, which is located in Cumberland, Cobb County, just 10 miles from the downtown Atlanta area. The ballpark is named for the local SunTrust Bank in a 25-year naming rights deal. A merger of that bank with BB&T will result in an eventual name change following this season.
SunTrust is billed as having the highest percentage of seats closer to the field than any ballpark in Major League Baseball. There is also air conditioning piped to every level of the ballpark to help during the hot Atlanta summer days.
There is a Monument Garden area displaying highlights of the franchise history. It is located in the concourse behind home plate, and features a statue of Baseball Hall of Fame living legend Hank Aaron, who played with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves for 21 seasons.
Dimensions down the line are 335 feet to left, 325 feet to right. The power alleys are roughly 375 (RC) and 385 (LC) feet, out to a 400-foot dead-center field wall. In the 2019 season, SunTrust ranks behind only Coors Field in Denver, Colorado and Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio in ESPN’s ‘Park Factors‘ as an offensive-leaning ballpark.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

FRIDAY: sunny and upper-70’s at 7:20 pm first pitch with light winds and almost zero chance of rain
SATURDAY: partly cloudy and low-80’s at 7:20 pm first pitch with light winds and almost zero chance of rain
SUNDAY: mostly sunny and mid-80s at 1:20 pm first pitch with light winds and just a 5% chance of rain
(Forecast supplied via The Weather Channel)

Was Atlanta Braves Strong 2016 Finish For Real?

The Atlanta Braves were one of baseball’s hottest teams over the final month, but does that portend a winning 2017 to come?

The Atlanta Braves woke up on the morning of Sunday, August 21 with a big headache. Perhaps for some, it came from a lot of Saturday night partying.
But for the majority of the Braves players, management, and their fan base that headache came from the team’s record on the field.
As of that Sunday morning the Braves had lost their last seven straight games, nine of their previous 10, and were sitting with a 44-79 record that was baseball’s worst.
To make matters somewhat worse, the Braves were trying to celebrate their final year at Turner Field after 20 seasons.
“The Ted” was closing down at the end of the year, with the club on schedule to move into new Sun Trust Park in the Atlanta suburbs for the 2017 season.
The Braves were 0-5 as they closed a homestand that day with a game against the NL East rival Washington Nationals.
With two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the 10th inning of a 6-6 tie, second baseman Jace Peterson worked the count full against always tough Nats reliever Shawn Kelley.
Peterson then blasted a solo home run, his seventh of the season, deep into the right field stands. 
The walkoff homer put an end to the losing streak, but what it would prove to have started could have never been seen at that point.