Latest on Spring Training position battles

Lugo eyes Mets rotation; Red Sox prospect Travis continues to impress

March 23rd, 2018

With Opening Day less than a week away, final roster decisions are being made or on the horizon around the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues. Here is the latest on position battles as Spring Training winds down:
, Mets
When fractured a bone in his glove hand, it looked as though Zack Wheeler would be in the Mets' starting rotation come Opening Day. But Wheeler has struggled mightily since then, giving up 10 runs in five innings, including three earned runs on seven hits in two innings during New York's 12-5 win over the Nationals on Thursday.
Overall, Wheeler's Grapefruit League ERA is 8.10 over five appearances (four starts). That has opened the door for Lugo, who has been pitching well this spring, to the tune of a 2.87 ERA in seven appearances after tossing four scoreless innings in relief of Wheeler on Thursday. In 15 2/3 Grapefruit League innings, the 28-year-old right-hander has 17 strikeouts and a 0.96 WHIP.
, Red Sox
Travis, Boston's No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline, has been red-hot this spring, with a team-leading five home runs. The 24-year-old is a first baseman, but he's also been getting time in left field. On the bubble as far as making the Opening Day roster, he's making it hard for the club to overlook his Grapefruit League performance. In Thursday's 10-7 loss to the Orioles, he was 1-for-2 with two walks.
"Everyone's saying he's been the MVP of Spring Training for the last three years or whatever," said manager Alex Cora. "But you see his at-bats -- forget the results -- and you're like, 'He's a good hitter.' The other day, he hits a home run on a first-pitch breaking ball, and then in a 3-1 count, he hits a line drive the other way. That's a sign that he's a good hitter."

and , Astros
Fisher and Kemp are competing for the final bench spot for Houston, and while Fisher entered camp with the inside track as a fourth outfielder, Kemp has been making a push of late. In Thursday's 15-7 loss to the Marlins, Kemp was 0-for-2 with two walks, and Fisher was 2-for-3 with a two-run double and a walk.
Overall, Kemp is hitting .231 (12-for-52) during Grapefruit League play, and Fisher upped his average to .214 (9-for-42).
"We'll see how that plays out over the weekend," said manager AJ Hinch. "I appreciate what Tony can bring to a team. He is a specific fit for a club that we're trying to work around to see if it's the right puzzle piece for us. He can play in the big leagues, and he should be a big leaguer."

, Rockies
Senzatela, who posted a 4.68 ERA (107 ERA+) over 36 appearances (20 starts) for Colorado as a rookie last season, has been impressive through five Cactus League appearances (two starts). He has a 1.62 ERA over 16 2/3 innings, and after a strong outing in a Minor League game Thursday, the Rockies are considering carrying him on the roster as a starter/long relief option.
"We like the fact that we have six guys right now building their pitch count, getting innings and preparing for the season," manager Bud Black said. "We will go with a five-man rotation, so our decision will be whether we keep one of these fellows in the bullpen or not."

and , Padres
As they continue to vie for the starting second base job in San Diego, Asuaje and Spangenberg each reached base in Thursday's 7-6 win over the Indians, but Asuaje had the better day. He went 1-for-2 with a two-run double and two walks. Spangenberg, who scored on that double, went 1-for-4 with a single.
Asuaje has had a stronger spring as well, batting .353 (18-for-51) with two homers. Spangenberg is batting .273 (12-for-44) with three homers.

, Yankees
German, a hard-throwing 25-year-old right-hander, is making a case to make the club out of Spring Training. With his fastball reaching 95 mph, German tossed three scoreless innings of relief in New York's 2-1 victory over the Twins on Thursday. That lowered his ERA to 2.30 with 17 strikeouts over 15 2/3 innings this spring.
"There's still competition," manager Aaron Boone said. "He's right in the mix. That didn't hurt."

Danny Espinosa and , Blue Jays
Espinosa and Ngoepe are competing to make the roster as a utitlity infielder for Toronto, and in Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Rays, Espinosa went 1-for-3 with a solo homer. Ngoepe was 0-for-2 with a walk and two strikeouts. Espinosa, whom the Blue Jays signed last week after the Yankees released him, upped his batting average for the spring to .256 (10-for-39) with two home runs.
Ngoepe's average dropped to .189 (7-for-37) with a homer.