Over the past few games, there has been increasingly more chatter surrounding Matt Wieters with not only his hitting performance, but his performance behind the plate as well. Let’s think back to the game on July 18, in New York, where Wieters got hit on the foot by a 94-mph Ivan Nova fastball. It didn’t look like much, but it was a pitch that caused Matt to miss the next six games.
Prior to the injury to his foot, Wieters had started behind the plate in 60 games, having a slash line of .250/.306/.403, with 9 HR’s, and 38 RBI’s. Since returning from his six-day break, Matt has gone 2-17 (.118), with 0 HR’s, and 0 RBI’s.
On the other side of the dugout, or sometimes sitting directly next to Wieters, is Caleb Joseph. For the backup catcher Joseph, it has been a rough season for him, trying to recover from the shot his pride took back on Memorial Day against the Red Sox.
Joseph is still searching for his first RBI this season, in 21 chances. With runners in scoring position this season, Caleb is batting an abysmal .095, with only two hits under his belt.
The injury under his belt is probably the leading cause of his struggles this season.
Matt Wieters played in 26 games in 2014 prior to being shut down for the season, and ultimately for the next 390 calendar days, Caleb Joseph stepped up nicely in his absence. In 2014, and 2015 combined, Joseph appeared in 182 games, batted .240, and hit 20 HR’s. It wasn’t anything by far to write home about, (unless you count Joseph’s five consecutive game HR streak from 8/2/14-8/9/14), however it was something that gave the O’s offense a few more runs, and provided them with a 58% caught stealing rate in the absence of their Gold Glove backstop.
Now here’s the actual purpose of this article.
I saw a few tweets about how Wieters was having a difficult game, and how he was seemingly calling pitchers for Gausman to throw, when Gausman was having difficulty locating in the first place.
That last tweet was the topic of a discussion on social media; should it be Wieters that continues to catch certain pitchers, or should Caleb Joseph step back into a dual-role with Matt, and share the catching duties?
In 2014, the Orioles sent Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, Miguel Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Kevin Gausman to the mound. When Caleb Joseph was their catcher, their respective ERA’s were 5.29, 3.05, 3.19, 2.74, 3.38, and 3.62.
If you remember correctly, that was the year the Orioles made it to the American League Championship Series, but were defeated in four games by the Kansas City Royals. Who doesn’t remember that though?
In comparision, let’s take a look at how the Orioles starting pitchers in 2015, and 2016 have faired with Joseph, and Wieters as their battery mate:
Of course, there are arguments to say that Wieters and his experience should be the main signal caller, but looking at these numbers, one has to think maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to rotate catchers depending on the starter.
With more playing time, Caleb Joseph is bound to start hitting more, and certainly should be able to plate a run.
The trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and my honest belief is that the Orioles aren’t going to trade for a starter, so maybe sticking with the catcher that gives them the best chance to win may be the best option.
Anything is possible, but Orioles fans who would you rather have behind the dish for certain starters?