Jon Niese to make Grapefruit League debut Tuesday

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From beat writer Adam Rubin of ESPN New York comes word that Mets left-hander Jon Niese has been cleared to make his Grapefruit League debut on Tuesday against the Cardinals.

Niese came down with some left shoulder soreness at the end of February and was sent to New York for an MRI, but that exam showed no structural damage and he was able to throw two discomfort-free innings last Thursday morning in an instrasquad game.

If his health cooperates, Niese will start for the Mets in their regular-season opener March 31 against the Nationals. The 27-year-old old posted a 3.71 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 143 innings last summer.

Report: Angels to sign Cody Allen

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Angels and reliever Cody Allen are in agreement on a one-year contract, pending a physical. The value of the contract is not yet known.

Allen, 30, was looking for an opportunity to close and the Angels can certainly provide that. He will likely be the favorite to break camp as the closer. 2018 was the roughest year of his career, however, as he finished with a 4.70 ERA, 27 saves, and a 80/33 K/BB ratio in 67 innings. Among Allen’s six full seasons, his 27.7 strikeout rate and 11.4 percent walk rate represented career-worsts. FanGraphs also shows him losing nearly a full MPH on his average fastball velocity.

The Angels lost closer Keynan Middleton to Tommy John surgery early last season and he likely won’t return until the second half of the 2019 season. Blake Parker, who handled save situations in Middleton’s place, was non-tendered by the Angels in November and ended up signing with the Twins. The closer’s role is Allen’s to lose, it seems.