Sean Newcomb
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Braves tag Sean Newcomb to start Game 3 of NLDS

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While the Braves originally planned to send veteran righty Kevin Gausman up against the Dodgers on Sunday, a last-minute change will see left-hander Sean Newcomb take the mound for what could be the deciding game of the NLDS.

Newcomb, 25, made a brief appearance for the team during Game 1 of the series on Thursday. He was the first man out of the bullpen behind Mike Foltynewicz, who made a hasty exit from the mound after giving up a four-run lead to Los Angeles in the first two innings. Newcomb pitched just two innings in relief, allowing a base hit to Hyun-Jin Ryu and striking out two of seven batters faced before handing the ball to Max Fried in the fifth.

Over the course of the regular season, Newcomb pitched to a 12-9 record in 30 starts with a 3.90 ERA, 4.4 BB/9, and 8.8 SO/9 through 164 innings. Gausman made a convincing case as well — since the Braves acquired him at the trade deadline in July, he went 5-3 in 10 starts with a 2.87 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, and 6.6 SO/9 across 59 2/3 innings — but with the stakes this high, the Braves appear to prefer the young southpaw as they try to stretch the NLDS to a full five games next week. Gausman, of course, could still be utilized in a starting role during Game 4 or 5, provided the Braves last that long against their NL rivals.

For now, Game 3 is scheduled to kick off at SunTrust Park on Sunday at 8:07 PM EDT. Following shutdown performances from both Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw, Atlanta still has yet to score a run in the postseason and will look to break that trend against rookie right-hander Walker Buehler.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.