The Atlanta Braves are turning to 25-year-old Sean Newcomb as their Game 3 starter in the National League Division Series.
With his team one loss away from playoff elimination, manager Brian Snitker announced the decision to start the young left-hander over recently acquired right-hander Kevin Gausman, the previously announced starter, as his team returned to SunTrust Park after consecutive shutout losses in Los Angeles.
“The situation is kind of dire right now,” Snitker said. “We need to win. And not that Gausman doesn’t give us that opportunity. We like how Newcomb matches up with them and the success that he’s had against the Dodgers this year.”
Snitker informed Newcomb on the return flight to Atlanta that he was the potential Game 3 starter, but officially called his two starters on Saturday afternoon.
Newcomb struggled down the stretch in his second full season and was not considered a lock to make the playoff roster, but his efforts against the Dodgers represent two of his best moments of 2018.
The left-hander finished one strike shy of a no-hitter against the Dodgers in late July — a one-hit, eight-strikeout effort at SunTrust Park on Hall of Fame weekend — and made his first postseason appearance in Game 1 in relief of Mike Foltynewicz, tossing two dominant innings.
“It was definitely good to get out there and just experience the playoff atmosphere, be on the road, too,” Newcomb said. “So it was loud and everything, but definitely good to get out there, see the lineup again and kind of just kick it off in the postseason.”
In total, he’s allowed two hits and one walk over his past 10 2/3 innings of work against the National League West champions.
“I talked to Newcomb, and Newcomb was actually really excited. He felt good about it,” Snitker said. “And I told him that we need you to get this thing off the ground. You don’t need to take a no-hitter into the ninth inning with a strike left or whatever.
“We just want to get this thing flying and be all hands on deck.”
Other than Foltynewicz, who could start Game 4 if the Braves extend the series, and Game 2 starter Anibal Sanchez, Snitker announced that his entire pitching staff is available in Game 3.