Left-hander Sean Newcomb will open the year in the Braves’ rotation, Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. He’ll be part of a quintet that should also include Julio Teheran, Brandon McCarthy and Mike Foltynewicz, though it’s not yet clear who will occupy the fifth spot. The 24-year-old Newcomb debuted in the majors last season and recorded a 4.32 ERA/4.19 FIP across 100 innings, also posting a promising K/9 (9.72) but a troubling BB/9 (5.13). Braves manager Brian Snitker is impressed with the progress Newcomb has made since last year, saying: “Amazing where he’s at to me right now from where he was a year ago. How much improvement that guy’s made. The confidence, his mound presence, the competitiveness, the whole thing from a year ago today. It’s so much better.”
Now for the latest on one of Atlanta’s division rivals…
- The Mets are considering trading out-of-options right-hander Rafael Montero, who’s drawing some interest from other teams, Matt Ehalt of The Record reports. A deal is not imminent, though, according to Ehalt. The 27-year-old struggled in the majors last season during his first extensive action in the bigs, with a 5.52 ERA and a 5.07 BB/9 over 119 innings (34 appearances, 18 starts). He did strike out 8.62 batters per nine and log a 4.37 FIP, though, to go with a 48.1 groundball percentage.
- Mets southpaw Jason Vargas took a line drive off the right hand Friday, and now his status for the start of the season is in question, per Tim Healey of Newsday. X-rays came back negative, but Vargas noted that “it’s sore,” and he’s set to see a hand specialist (though he seems largely unconcerned). Manager Mickey Callaway added that he’s “not quite sure” whether the Mets will be able to open the year with Vargas, who’s currently in line to start their third game of the season. The Mets added Vargas on a two-year, $16MM deal in the offseason, hoping he’d provide a competent innings eater to a rotation that lacked those during an injury-plagued 2017.
- More on the Mets, who utilized infielder Wilmer Flores in left field on Saturday. If the Mets are serious about Flores as an outfield option, it could benefit the rest of their roster, Tim Britton of The Athletic observes (subscription required). Flores as a fifth outfielder would give the Mets the ability to assemble a 13-man pitching staff, including eight in the bullpen, Britton notes. Regardless, Callaway is intent on finding at-bats for Flores, who was an above-average hitter from 2016-17. “You saw why he needs to be playing multiple positions, because the kid can hit,” Callaway said. “We need to get him as many at-bats as we can this season.”