SF Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has strongly hinted that top pitching prospect Kyle Harrison will debut before the end of this season. However, there is another pitcher in Sean Newcomb, who could help them down the stretch.
Could veteran pitcher help the SF Giants out down the stretch in 2023?
The Giants signed Newcomb to a minor league deal with a camp invite prior to the start of the season. However, he did not appear in the Cactus League as he recovered from an offseason injury. Earlier in his career, the southpaw was one of the more promising young pitchers as he posted a 3.87 ERA through his first three seasons with the Atlanta Braves.
However, his career has been derailed by injuries, including a concussion in 2019. In a June game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Newcomb was struck in the head by a line drive off of the bat of J.T. Realmuto. He was immediately placed on the concussion list. Since then, he has battled a nagging ankle injury as well.
There is no way to tell exactly how much of an impact that the concussion has had on Newcomb's career, but he has struggled mightily with a 7.45 ERA since the incident. Even though he eventually cleared the concussion protocol, it is possible that he dealt with lingering effects as has been the case with many players in the past.
The good news is that the 30-year-old pitcher appears to be fully healthy for the first time in years and could be in a position to help the Giants. He has tallied a 2.88 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 1.36 WHIP, 12.2 K/9, and a 2.27 SO/W ratio in 13 outings with the Sacramento River Cats. This includes a strong 62.3 percent ground ball rate.
The Pacific Coast League is a very hitter-friendly league, which should add some context to how Newcomb has performed. And, working out of the bullpen might be a way for Newcomb to prolong his career, especially considering that his strikeout numbers have spiked.
There are similarities between Newcomb and Shelby Miller, who finished the year with San Francisco last year. Miller had been one of the better young pitchers in baseball in the mid-2010's before he battled both injury and underperformance. The veteran pitcher re-emerged with the Giants last year, putting together an impressive, albeit brief, showing with San Francisco that helped him land a guaranteed contract in the winter.
Could Newcomb follow a similar trajectory? He is certainly making a good enough impression in Triple-A to warrant a promotion.