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Who will fill Braves' final rotation spots?

MLB.com @mlbbowman

ATLANTA -- Sean Newcomb and Luiz Gohara stand as the favorites to win the final two available spots in Atlanta's rotation. But the Braves aren't making any guarantees as they approach Spring Training looking forward to the chance to see their young starters compete for a job.

Braves president of baseball operations and general manager Alex Anthopoulos has said Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Brandon McCarthy will most likely fill three of the rotation's five spots. The primary candidates for the final two spots are Newcomb, Gohara, Lucas Sims, Max Fried and dark horse veteran Scott Kazmir.

ATLANTA -- Sean Newcomb and Luiz Gohara stand as the favorites to win the final two available spots in Atlanta's rotation. But the Braves aren't making any guarantees as they approach Spring Training looking forward to the chance to see their young starters compete for a job.

Braves president of baseball operations and general manager Alex Anthopoulos has said Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Brandon McCarthy will most likely fill three of the rotation's five spots. The primary candidates for the final two spots are Newcomb, Gohara, Lucas Sims, Max Fried and dark horse veteran Scott Kazmir.

There's certainly a chance an injury, acquisition or trade could force the Braves to alter their plans. But with this being the current field, here is a look at the candidates:

Newcomb: Having made 19 starts after receiving his first call to the Majors in June, Newcomb stands as the most experienced member of the group of young candidates. The highly touted rookie made a good impression through his first four starts, struggled throughout most of July and then ditched his slider as he began throwing his changeup more frequently in August.

The southpaw, who will turn 25 in June, is far from a finished product. He didn't ease concerns about his command as he issued 5.1 walks per nine innings, but it's worth noting that figure dropped to 4.75 over his final nine starts. His curveball has the potential to be a great weapon, but he'll either need to find the strike zone with it more frequently or induce some more chase swings.

Video: ATL@NYM: Newcomb fans seven over five frames

Per Statcast™, Newcomb recorded a strike with 66.38 percent of the fastballs he threw. That ranked 37th among 147 pitchers who threw at least 1,000 heaters. He recorded a strike with 56.60 percent of his curveballs, which ranked 51st among the 63 pitchers who threw at least 300 hooks.

Newcomb allowed more than four earned runs in just two of his 19 starts last year, but after completing at least six innings in each of his first four career starts, he did so in just three of the 15 that followed.

Gohara: There was a lot to like as Gohara displayed his tremendous potential during his first five career starts in September. But you should never allow yourself to be fooled by what you see during the season's final month, especially by a rookie who started the year at the Class A Advanced level.

Per Statcast™, Gohara's 96.5-mph average fastball velocity ranked sixth among all pitchers who threw at least 200 fastballs last season. The big 21-year-old southpaw has drawn comparisons to CC Sabathia, and he stands as the most physically gifted pitching prospect the Braves have brought to the Majors in the past three seasons. But as impressive as he might have been while completing at least six innings in each of his final four starts, Gohara still has plenty to prove.

Video: Top Prospects: Luiz Gohara, LHP, Braves

Sims: The suburban Atlanta resident might not have the same upside as the other three young candidates, but his competitive spirit has drawn the respect of manager Brian Snitker and seemingly every other coach he has had. He posted a 5.79 ERA over the 10 starts he made for the Braves last year, and he got a taste of the bullpen as he made four relief appearances in September. If Atlanta opens the season with an eight-man 'pen, he'll stand as a top candidate to serve as a multiple-inning option.

Video: ATL@MIA: Sims freezes Ellis, escapes trouble in 2nd

Fried: The 24-year-old southpaw showed the potential of his curveball as he limited the Cubs to one run over five innings and earned the win in his first Major League start on Sept. 3. But he completed at least five innings in just two outings, and he also posted a 5.92 ERA over the 19 starts made for Double-A Mississippi last year.

Video: Top Prospects: Max Fried, LHP, Braves

Fried is two seasons removed from his long recovery from Tommy John surgery, and he's once again considered one of the game's top left-handed prospects (ranked 10th by MLB Pipeline). But he may need a little more seasoning at Triple-A Gwinnett. Fried will be a top candidate if there's a need for an early-season promotion, but by the time June rolls around, Mike Soroka and Kolby Allard might also be deemed MLB-ready.

Kazmir: Whatever the Braves get from Kazmir will be considered gravy, as they acquired the veteran pitcher as part of the Matt Kemp trade. If Kazmir pitches well during Spring Training, he might draw interest from a club in need of a starter. But the Braves also might opt to roll the dice and attempt to further enhance his value before flipping him during the early portion of the regular season.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves