After right-handed starters Mike Foltynewicz and Anibal Sanchez surrendered a combined four home runs to the Los Angeles Dodgers the first two games of the National League Division Series, the Atlanta Braves made a change with their backs against the wall.
Having previously announced Kevin Gausman as the starter for Game 3, the Braves will instead start southpaw Sean Newcomb on Sunday. He last pitched on Thursday, throwing 25 pitches over two scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Newcomb allowed one hit and collected two strikeouts in the relief appearance.
He faced the Dodgers two times this season, making one start each at Dodger Stadium and SunTrust Park. The home start was nearly one for the record books as Newcomb came within one strike of throwing the Braves’ first no-hitter since 1994.
Chris Taylor’s single eventually led to a run in what nonetheless finished as a 4-1 loss to the Dodgers. When Newcomb started at Dodger Stadium three weeks later, he allowed five runs on seven hits, including two home runs, in 5.1 innings and took the loss.
Overall this season, Newcomb went 12-9 with a 3.90 ERA, 4.14 FIP and 1.33 WHIP in 31 games (30 starts). The 25-year-old curiously was better on the road than at home, where he struggled to the tune of a 4-6 record and 5.12 ERA.
The Dodgers’ struggles against left-handed pitching have been well-documented, but they seemingly turned a corner since August. It coincided with midseason trades and manager Dave Roberts committing more aggressively to platoons across the board.
With Newcomb taking the mound in Game 3, the likes of Brian Dozier, David Freese and/or Matt Kemp figure to be in the Dodgers lineup. They, along with Austin Barnes and Chris Taylor, have yet to log a plate appearance in this year’s NLDS.
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