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2023 Athletics Season in Review: Sean Newcomb

Sean Newcomb joined the A’s late into the 2023 season, but the lefty showed enough to potentially be a larger part of the A’s pitching staff come 2024.

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Newcomb spent six big league seasons all in the National League before landing with the A’s late in 2023, and for someone who’s struggled to establish a consistent role with an MLB team, Newcomb can build off of 2023 and do that with Oakland going forward.

How Acquired?

Newcomb was acquired on August 21, 2023, from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for outfielder Trenton Brooks.

What were the expectations?

Brought up to Oakland immediately on August 23, the expectations for Newcomb were to simply add some depth and extra innings in the back end of the bullpen. The former starter and now converted reliever saw his numbers improve drastically after moving to the bullpen in 2019 with the Atlanta Braves where he’d been used almost exclusively since. The A’s brought up Newcomb while sending down fellow lefty reliever Hogan Harris at the time when Harris was struggling himself.

2023 Results

Pitching in seven games total and starting twice, Newcomb was very serviceable for the A’s pen in his short stint. He threw 15 innings while surrendering eight hits, five runs, a home run, nine walks, and 17 strikeouts. Newcomb’s two starts came in his final two appearances of the season, and it was a tale of two polarizing outings.

His first start on 9/9 saw Newcomb go four innings strong while surrendering one hit, no runs, and striking out five against the eventual champs, the Texas Rangers. Newcomb's next start on 9/15 went three innings for three walks, four runs, and his only home run surrendered on the season to the San Diego Padres. Newcomb was placed on the Injured List days later on 9/17 for a sprained left knee which ended his season.

What went right? What went wrong?

Newcomb’s kryptonite has always been his command, and unfortunately, 2023 was no different. Newcomb walked 6% of batters over the MLB average, and he hasn’t been within 1% of the MLB average since 2020 with the Braves. He also struggled with walks in his 2023 minor league stint in the Giants system as well, however, his strikeout numbers were also high. Newcomb struck out nearly 28% of the batters he faced for the A’s in 2023 after striking out 40 hitters in 31 innings with the Sacramento Rivercats before being called up, the Giants AAA affiliate. Batted balls off Newcomb also resulted in a line drive just 18.2% of the time, 7% below the MLB average which is very promising. Newcomb’s tenure with the A’s starting in August was his first big league action in nearly a year, so in a way, 2023 was also a personal victory for Newcomb to prove to himself and others that he’s still valuable.

2024 Outlook

The former first-round, 15th overall pick is expected to be on the A’s 40-man roster come 2024. With the departure of 2023 lefties like Sam Long, Richard Lovelady, and Sam Moll, the path for Newcomb to have a noteworthy and instrumental role in 2024 is much clearer. He’ll need to clean up his walk numbers and keep building off of his swing-and-miss potential, but expect Newcomb to hopefully be a big part of the A’s bullpen and rotation come March.