Mets closer Frank Francisco is available to pitch tonight

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UPDATE: Francisco must be feeling better now, because he’s available out of the bullpen tonight.

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For now the Mets are sticking with Frank Francisco as closer despite his 7.71 ERA, but the right-hander was unavailable last night due to hamstring tightness that manager Terry Collins believes could be related to the high altitude in Colorado.

Collins speculated to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York that Francisco was dehydrated due to the altitude and that led to his hamstring acting up a day after the Mets’ series in Colorado ended.

Now they’re in Houston, but Collins indicated that Francisco may be unavailable again tonight. Last night with the bullpen short-handed Manny Acosta was asked to pitch a second inning of relief and coughed up the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.