In a season to forget for the Braves' organization as a whole, Tyler Flowers was a bright spot, offensively. After seven below-average seasons with the White Sox, the 30-year-old catcher put together the best season of his MLB career, at least in terms of rate stats. He continued to struggle with plate discipline, striking out in 28.0 percent of his plate appearances, but Flowers hit the ball hard when he did make contact (43.8 percent hard-hit rate). While Flowers is not the team's catcher of the future, his 2017 playing time seems relatively safe with 33-year-old Anthony Recker probably only worthy of two-to-three starts per week. The skills aren't worth paying a premium for, but Flowers is a reasonable second catcher option in 15-team mixed leagues.
Flowers is expected to be the Braves' starting catcher headed into 2017. The team did bring in veteran backstop Kurt Suzuki in the offseason, but after Flowers posted a career-high .777 OPS last year, the starting gig should be his come Opening Day. There's a good chance the 31-year-old will take a step backwards offensively given his .374 BABIP in 2016, but Flowers has maintained a BABIP north of .320 for three straight seasons now while improving his strikeout and walk rates each year, so the regression may not be as severe as you might expect. The bigger impact on his numbers could come from how SunTrust Park, the Braves' new stadium, plays relative to Turner Field, which had tended to be slightly pitcher-friendly over the last few seasons.
Flowers went 2-for-4 with an RBI single and a run-scoring double in Friday's 3-2 victory over the Marlins. The backstop came through on two separate occasions in the tightly-contested ballgame, plating Matt Kemp with a second-inning single and then driving home Freddie Freeman with a game-tying RBI double in the sixth. Flowers has hit safely in seven of his last nine contests, posted 11 RBI in September, and is slashing a solid .267/.359/.410 over 266 at-bats this season.
Flowers is out of the lineup Saturday against the Mets. He has been in the lineup roughly 60-70 percent of the time of late, and will sit Saturday in favor of A.J. Pierzynski. Flowers is hitting .310/.417/.414 over his last 16 games, but his track record suggests that some steep regression is in order.
Flowers is out of the lineup Monday against the Nationals. Flowers was behind the plate for the previous three games, so he'll get a chance to pick up some rest Monday afternoon. Anthony Recker will get the starting nod at catcher, serving as the battery mate for starting pitcher Ryan Weber.
Flowers is out of the lineup Thursday against the Padres. Flowers has started back-to-back contests and four of the last five overall, but will take a seat for the afternoon matchup against San Diego. Anthony Recker will get the call to bat sixth in the order and man the backstop in his stead.