Tyler Flowers made a trip to the DL due to a wrist injury and split time fairly evenly with Kurt Suzuki when active, but he did enough at the plate to finish as a top-15 fantasy catcher. Perhaps that speaks more to the lack of talent at the position than it does Flowers' ability, but Flowers has made strides as a hitter over the past two seasons, showing improved patience and contact ability. He trimmed his strikeout rate to a career-low 22.2 percent in 2017 (down from 28 percent) while maintaining a walk rate above eight percent (120 wRC+). His hard-hit rate fell (as did his flyball rate to just 33.3 percent), but a 37.1 percent hard-hit rate is still an impressive mark. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much room for growth in 2018 barring a trade, as Kurt Suzuki re-upped with Atlanta on a one-year deal, and Suzuki's success against lefties means Flowers' chances against them will remain limited.
Flowers went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in Monday's Grapefruit League game against the Blue Jays. The veteran catcher has had a rough spring so far after undergoing minor wrist surgery last October, going 2-for-19 in nine games with both hits being singles. Flowers is coming off a career year, posting an .823 OPS in 99 games last season thanks mainly to a spike in his contact rate, and while his small-sample struggles in March won't mean anything once Opening Day arrives, Flowers' lack of a successful track record does make him a riskier fantasy play -- especially with another veteran catcher, Kurt Suzuki, on the roster and available to pick up the slack if Flowers regresses.
Flowers (wrist) will set up behind the plate and bat fourth against the Mets during Wednesday's Grapefruit League contest, Gabe Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Flowers underwent wrist surgery this past offseason but appears to be fully healthy as the 2018 regular season approaches. He is expected to share the catching duties with Kurt Suzuki in a similar fashion to last season.
Manager Brian Snitker said he expects Flowers (wrist) and backup catcher Kurt Suzuki to share duties similarly this season, David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Flowers and Suzuki split time pretty evenly in 2017, and together the two proved to be one of the most productive catching tandems in the majors. As a result, Snitker said he plans to utilize the duo in a similar manner as last season, when Flowers appeared in 99 games and Suzuki in 81. That could change, however, based on how the two backstops feel and perform as the season wears on. Flowers, who underwent wrist surgery earlier in the offseason, is expected to be fully healthy once Grapefruit League action kicks in. The 32-year-old hit .281/.378/.445 with 12 homers in 370 plate appearances last season.
Flowers is not in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Marlins. Flowers enjoyed a productive year at the plate this season, slashing .282/.379/.446 in 369 plate appearances, but he'll give way to Kurt Suzuki behind the plate for the season finale.
Flowers is out of the lineup against Miami on Friday. Flowers will spend Friday's contest on the bench after going 0-for-2 with a pair of walks during Thursday's game. Kurt Suzuki is set to handle the catching duties in his stead.