It is now officially Rene Rivera time

The beginning of the 2017 season brought a familiar narrative for Travis d’Arnaud. This would be the season that he would break his pattern of being injury prone. His new swing would finally help him to fulfill the potential that he was originally thought to possess when the Mets first traded for him. So far this season, it seems that nothing has changed for d’Arnaud. His average currently sits at .204, and he has four home runs to go with 16 RBIs. Just as it seemed he was starting to pick up the pace though, d’Arnaud sustained a bone bruise. This forced the starting job to be placed upon well-traveled backup catcher Rene Rivera.

When Rivera signed to the Mets on a minor-league contract on April 5th, 2016, it was simply a matter of deepening the roster. After being recalled to the majors when Travis d’Arnaud succumbed to injury, it soon became known that Rivera not only had the best arm of all the Mets catchers, he was a better defensive catcher than the other two the Mets possessed. Rivera lead the Mets catchers with a +4 defensive runs saved, and also threw out 18 potential base stealers in 61 attempts. He soon became the catcher of choice for Noah Syndergaard. Catching for the ace of the staff was nothing new to Rivera, as he was the catcher of choice for Andrew Cashner in San Diego and Chris Archer in Tampa Bay. Rivera signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract on December 3, 2016 to stay with the Mets.

Coming into the 2017, Rivera was slated to be d’Arnaud’s backup at catcher. For the most part, in the beginning of the season Rivera only started when Syndergaard did, including Opening Day. A new opportunity opened up when d’Arnaud injured himself though. Although at first it seemed that Rivera would only be required to hold down the fort, he has taken the opportunity by the horns and rode it to success. Through 63 at-bats Rivera has produced a solid .328 batting average, along with driving in eight runs. While at first it may not jump out at you based on the small sample size, but it is an improvement over last season. Last season, Rivera hit a lowly .222 and drove in only 26 runs. So why start Rivera over d’Arnaud when he returns?

The Mets are already at a desperate point in the season. At the time of this being written, they currently sit two games under .500. The Mets absolutely need to win games anyway they can, no matter who is behind the plate. The way that Rivera is playing behind and at the plate, it would be incredulous to start d’Arnaud over him. In one more game at catcher than d’Arnaud, Rivera has thrown out more runners and allowed one less steal. While Rivera may not possess the pop that d’Arnaud does, he has been more consistent at the plate thus far. Of course, many people will side with starting d’Arnaud due to the fact that he is much younger than Rivera and has more potential. Would you risk winning games winning games with a veteran player just for the sake of trying to stretch out the potential of player who’s injury list is longer than the line at Shake Shack? It is a decision that Terry Collins will be forced to make sooner rather than later.

11 comments for “It is now officially Rene Rivera time

  1. Popeye
    May 14, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Rivera is much better defensively. If he hits 220-230,8-10,40 he is a better choice than d’Arnaud

  2. Eraff
    May 14, 2017 at 9:53 am

    The idea that d’Arnaud has “potential” is an Antique Predisposition…..he’s 28 with 1000 ab’s with a 704 career OPS, with substantial regression offensively— and no progress defensively.

    He has trouble staying on the field, and He Cannot Field his Position—even if I concede arguments about Pitch Framing.

    Rivera is a solid receiver…probably more a Backup or Rotational Catcher.

    d’Arnaud has challenges with the Bat and Glove that are Substantial…I’d argue that Rivera has a better shot of becoming a competitive hitter than d’Arnaud has of conquering his own steep shortcomings with Both the Bat and The Glove(and arm).

    PS… I still have some belief and hope (probably misguided) in KP

  3. Chris F
    May 14, 2017 at 10:37 am

    much as I like Rene given our circumstances, that we need a story advocating starting a back-up catcher over our star is sad indeed.

    2017 = 🙁
    Bring on 2018, hopefully with new faces at different levels.

  4. MattyMets
    May 14, 2017 at 11:12 am

    There are worse catching situations than TDA/Rivera. Buster Posey is the only star catcher in baseball right now and there are only a handful of other good ones – Molina, Martin, Perez, McCann, Grandal, Realmuto. Catchers have become like QBs. Just not enough to go around and sometimes you have to make due with somebody serviceable. I believe our current combo, while not ideal, is far from our biggest issue.

  5. Name
    May 14, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    He’s getting lucky.

    He’s not driving the ball with authority (.082 ISO) or selectively hitting at good pitches (just 1 BB). He’s just swinging wildy and right now the hits are falling in (.419 BABIP).

    He’s a backup catcher.

    FWIW, the Mets have a 5.19 ERA with him catching this year, a full run higher than TDA at 4.20

    • John Fox
      May 14, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      Rivera also strikes out a ton and almost never walks. That being said his production is way better than most people thought. I say let Rivera and d’Arnaud battle it out for the starting catcher spot when d’Arnaud is healthy and go with whoever is hotter.

    • Dalton Allison
      May 14, 2017 at 7:06 pm

      If Rene is a backup catcher, than what does that peg d’Arnaud as?

      • Metsense
        May 14, 2017 at 10:40 pm

        TDA was the second best NL offense catcher to Buster Posey in 2015. 2016 was a down year and 2017 he is just average. I think it makes TDA a player of unfulfilled promise that may never get fulfilled. Rene Rivera is still a back up though. Rivera is on a good roll and should continue start while he remains on this roll. I hope the roll continues but in the end, when his BABIP drops ,he will resume his roll as a back up. Until then ride him hard.

        • May 15, 2017 at 10:58 am

          Why are we racing to excommunicate TDA when he’s not playing? Rivera is a nice backup catcher and Plawecki doesn’t deserve to be on a 25 man roster, but let’s not knock the injured incumbent. His bat was coming alive.

  6. TJ Fan
    May 15, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Right surname, wrong player. TJ is the one who should be announced as a starter.

    • Dalton Allison
      May 15, 2017 at 11:51 am

      I agree for the infield, but in the article we were strictly discussing starting catching. I am in favor of both Riveras starting.

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