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Mets Morning News: With Barnes and Lucchesi solidified, competition for final pitching slot heats up

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Your Sunday morning dose of New York Mets and MLB news, notes, and links.

New York Mets v Washington Nationals Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Meet the Mets

Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner has been working with Jacob Barnes a lot this offseason and during spring training to incorporate analytics into his game. With yesterday’s successful plan of using Barnes as an opener for Joey Lucchesi, the Mets are hoping that work will pay off.

The Mets are likely to continue to utilize an opener during the regular season, given yesterday’s successful experiment.

Luis Rojas said yesterday that the Mets have not yet decided whether to carry 13 or 14 pitchers, but given the fact that there are 13 position players likely set in stone, the former is more likely. Mike Montgomery starts for the Mets today in an attempt to win one of those final pitching slots. His opt-out is today.

With yesterday’s performances, Joey Lucchesi and Jacob Barnes officially earned their spots as the fifth starter and bullpen arm, respectively. That leaves Mike Montgomery (pitching today), Robert Gsellman, and Stephen Tarpley competing for that final bullpen spot in the final days of spring training.

Jonathan Villar has been dealing with a “minor groin injury” that has kept him out of Grapefruit League action, but he is considered day-to-day and likely to return before camp breaks.

The Mets are MLB’s sixth-most valuable franchise, according to Forbes, valued at $2.45 billion.

Anthony McCarron of the Daily News takes a look back at the April Fool’s Day piece “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch,” one of the greatest sports gags of all time.

Around the National League East

Thought to be the Nationals’ third baseman of the future with a chance to win the job out of camp, Carter Kieboom has been optioned to Triple-A after struggling all spring. It seems that Starlin Castro and Josh Harrison will see the most time at second and third base. Meanwhile, to fill out the bench, the Nationals selected the contracts of infielders Jordy Mercer and Hernán Pérez.

The Braves also made some roster moves yesterday, selecting the contract of Pablo Sandoval, designating Phillip Ervin for assignment, and releasing Jason Kipnis.

After announcing on February 1, 2018 that he was taking an “indefinite break” from baseball, former number one pick Mark Appel is attempting to make a comeback with the Phillies.

“Really, I think he’s just at-bats away,” manager Don Mattingly said of Marlins outfield prospect JJ Bleday, who is unlikely to make the team but has impressed this spring. “Getting enough at-bats, seeing more styles, different guys. It’s hard to say that he needs to do this, this or this. I think it’s just a matter of getting at-bats and putting the rest of it together.”

Around Major League Baseball

Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Opening Day.

Yankees first baseman Luke Voit will miss a large chunk of the 2021 season, requiring surgery to repair a partial tear of his meniscus. This opens the door for Jay Bruce, who will now be the starting first baseman for the Yankees. Losing Voit is a huge blow to the Yankees, who have had issues staying healthy in recent years.

Joel Sherman is excited to have fans back at the ballpark in 2021.

Will Leitch of MLB.com ranked all 30 Opening Day starters. Jacob deGrom ranked second behind Shane Bieber, with Gerrit Cole rounding out the top three.

Yesterday at Amazin’ Avenue

Dave Capobianco previewed Brandon Nimmo’s 2021 season.

This Date in Mets History

On this date in 1976, the Tom Seaver trade rumors, which would culminate in the Midnight Massacre the following year, began in earnest.