More bullpen trouble last night for the Braves, this time in the form of Luke Jackson. What seemed like a solution in Jackson has now turned back into a problem. Now, it’s time to let Sean Newcomb take on the closer’s role.
Luke Jackson, in his last 8 appearances, has recorded 5 saves and 3 blown saves. That numbers are not good enough to justify him staying in the closer role on the season. There was a stretch of time when Jackson looked like the answer to all of our closing issues, but having back-to-back blown saves in San Francisco have thrown the Braves back into the same issue that they were in before Jackson assumed the role. Jackson will be a fine setup guy like he was before being thrust into closing duties. Luke Jackson was never meant to be the closer.
The Braves are running out of options when it comes to closing games out, however, there is one guy the team can still call upon, Sean Newcomb. On Monday, against the Giants, Newcomb recorded his first major league save. This was, mostly, out of necessity after Jackson had been used often in the long homestand, but nonetheless, Newcomb didn’t give up a hit or walk in his save opportunity. It’s not a large sample size to go off of, but Newcomb is an answer the Braves have yet to try.
Since returning from his stint in AAA, Newcomb has been strong for the Braves in the bullpen. In seven appearances, Newcomb hasn’t given up a walk, the main issue that got him sent back to AAA in the first place. I don’t know if it was the demotion or the fact that he has less to do on the mound, thinking wise, other than get the batters that are placed in front of you, but Newcomb has looked like a different guy since returning. The aggressiveness of pitching in the bullpen has made Sean the better pitcher. In a closer role, he can be that much more aggressive.
It was thought Sean Newcomb could move back into the rotation if Mike Foltynewicz had another bad start on Sunday. Luckily, for Folty and Braves fans, Folty had a good start and will live to see another one. That leaves Newcomb in the bullpen, for now. And that’s a good thing for the Braves with Luke Jackson losing some of his composure as of late. Newcomb has good enough stuff to be a starter, a very successful one if he can put it all together. So far, Newcomb hasn’t been able to put it all together so until he does, the Braves need to use him where the team can. Now, the Braves need a closer. At this point, Sean Newcomb is the only logical choice for that role.