Friday, May 15, 2015

Pondering the use of backup catchers

Torii Hunter got Thursday off, which made sense; day game after a night game, and he's not a young guy. Kurt Suzuki started at catcher, and that surprised me. I figured it a good chance to get Chris Herrmann a start. Day game after night game, right-handed pitcher for Detroit, and Herrmann last started on May 6.

That start came against a lefty (Scott Kazmir). Herrmann's previous start was on May 3; it too came against a lefty (John Danks). Thirteen of Herrmann's first 30 plate appearances came against left-handed pitchers. That's probably suboptimal for Herrmann, and I infer that Paul Molitor isn't as interested in matchups with his catchers as I expected him to be/

Suzuki has started 28 of 35 games behind the plate, which pales in comparison to Salvador Perez of Kansas City. Perez sat Thursday; it was only the third game he didn't start behind the plate this season.

Perez's current backup is Drew Butera, who came to the Royals a week ago from the Angels in a trade that involved a minor-league infielder. He's already made two starts fo K.C., which suggests that either

  • manager Ned Yost knows he's got to pull back on Perez or
  • Yost trusts Butera a lot more than he trusted Eric Kratz, who opened the season as the No. 2 catcher.

Or maybe both. Kratz is on the disabled list, but he barely played when active. A lot of fans look at Butera's anemic hitting stats and wonder why he keeps finding jobs, but managers really do like his defensive chops. Yost has been reluctant to rest Perez for years because Perez is so good defensively; Butera's no Perez, especially throwing, but he's good enough defensively that the dropoff is manageable.

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