One of the Mets’ walking wounded returned to action on Monday, as Kevin Plawecki was activated from the disabled list and started in the second game of the doubleheader. It was the eighth start of the year for Plawecki and in what’s perhaps a coincidence, the Mets are 7-1 in those starts. Plawecki has always had his share of backers who thought he should be the team’s starting catcher. And even though Travis d’Arnaud is out for the year, Plawecki still finds himself in a muddy situation. Who’s the primary starter for the Mets the rest of the year?
Devin Mesoraco has performed better – on both sides of the dish – than anyone had a right to expect since he was acquired by the Mets. The club was so impressed with how he prepared defensively for a game that they brought back Tomas Nido from the minors so he could watch that preparation first hand. And on offense, all Mesoraco has done is to put up a .261/.358/.630 line in 15 games with the Mets. Sure, he may look like one of the Teletubbies but Mesoraco is putting up numbers even better than the ones he did in 2014, when he made the All-Star team and was a down ballot MVP candidate.
Meanwhile, Plawecki can’t compete with Mesoraco’s power but with a .455 OBP in his time this year, it’s not like he’s been a zero at the plate. And did you hear that the Mets were 7-1 in games that he started? For a team that appears to be cursed, it’s hard to ignore a good luck charm like that.
Here are the numbers of the Mets pitchers with these two behind the plate:
While the sample sizes for both catchers are small, it’s remarkable how close they are in the triple slash lines for opposing hitters. Only five points of OPS separates the two. And while Mesoraco has caught the two aces six times in his 13 games, Plawecki has caught them five times in his eight. And Mesoraco has been behind the dish for two starts by Jason Vargas – coaxing his one decent outing – and the Chris Flexen appearance while Plawecki only has last night’s P.J. Conlon start to count as a dud.
So, how will the Mets handle the catching position moving forward? And who will make the decision – Sandy Alderson or Mickey Callaway? And which one of those two would you want to make the decision?
When d’Arnaud was healthy, he and Plawecki shared the first eight starts, with Plawecki getting the call for the first, third, fifth and sixth games of the season. The first and fifth games were starts by Noah Syndergaard and it looked like the Mets were going to try and have him start those games, as he was likely the better option to control the running game. Otherwise it’s hard to distinguish a pattern. Before the start of the season, the club gave lip service to having starts determined by the opposing pitcher and which one they thought a particular catcher would have success against.
For me, it’s hard to imagine that Mesoraco isn’t the primary starter. Maybe you can still give the majority of Syndergaard starts to Plawecki, along with the day game after a night game. But my preference is for around 70 percent of the starts to go to Mesoraco. My opinion is that Mesoraco is the overall better defensive option and that Plawecki’s numbers are being propped up by the number of starts he has with the two aces. And while I love Plawecki’s OBP numbers, they seem no more likely to hold up over a large sample than Mesoraco’s slugging.
Either way, it’s a better question to ask who’s starting between these two than the one we were asking a few weeks earlier. The second choice in the Mesoraco/Plawecki debate is miles ahead of the first choice in the Jose Lobaton/Nido decision that has made up the majority of the year so far. Tough road losses to the first place Brewers and Braves in the past week aside, the Mets should see a far better record moving forward with their current two catchers.