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.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.