Is Devin Mesoraco or Kevin Plawecki the starter going forward?

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:

By Catcher
Split G IP ERA PA R H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
Devin Mesoraco 13 108.0 3.25 456 43 96 16 2 12 11 0 43 118 .237 .317 .375 .692 .304
Kevin Plawecki 8 70.0 3.21 290 27 61 14 0 9 5 0 21 84 .233 .298 .389 .687 .304
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/29/2018.

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.

27 comments for “Is Devin Mesoraco or Kevin Plawecki the starter going forward?

  1. May 29, 2018 at 9:11 am

    M’Rocko is the guy at C. Move Bruce to 1B when Cespedes comes back, Nimmo is everday RF and leadoff guy, dump Reyes and Vargas, Frazier back to 3B upon DL overwith, keep this Guillermo cat, and let’s go.

    Win the next two after so many heartbreaking defeats (deGrom can be like 8-0 by now) and Mets only 2 out. Hopefully Swarzak can bring swagger when he comes back and get Lugo in the starting rotation. If Mets can do all of this, be 2 out by 5/31, despite the late inning blow ups and injuries, they will be fine the last four months. Braves and Phils will drop back and the cream will rise. “Whipped” Cream or Ice Cream, what will it be ?

    • TexasGusCC
      May 29, 2018 at 3:20 pm

      Edwin, forget the contracts. Is Bruce better overall at 1B than AGone?

  2. Madman
    May 29, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Lugo in the rotation,Swarsak in the BP, Alonso on first, Reyes DFAed, Bautista,Guilorme on the bench. Matz and or Wheeler has to come through.

  3. Mike Walczak
    May 29, 2018 at 9:37 am

    I am thrilled with how Mesoraco has performed so far. Time will tell and performance will determine who should catch most of the games. For now, keep them fresh and use both of them equally.

  4. May 29, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Mesoraco has hit well but is a horrid pitch framer and is injury prone and catcher E.R.A is not a good stat. Mesoraco has been a real good hitter so far so I’d give him 60% of the starts for now.

    • May 29, 2018 at 10:03 am

      The reason catcher ERA isn’t a good stat to make comparisons with is that it doesn’t take the quality of opposition or the quality of starter into account. Plawecki has had a decided edge in quality of starter.

      And in the small sample of 2018, the Stat Corner catcher numbers for the two are indistinguishable.

    • Pete In Iowa
      May 29, 2018 at 2:07 pm

      Pitch framing has to be the hands down winner for the most ridiculous and useless stat ever invented. It absurdly purports to know what an umpire is/would be thinking.
      Look at it this way — when a much needed electronic strike zone is perfected and implemented someday, “pitch framing” completely goes away.
      What other stat ever invented has disappeared — or would disappear — by the use of electronic play calling? When replay became prevalent in televised games in the 60’s and 70’s, official scorers rightfully used them to aid in scoring plays. Hits or errors didn’t go away.

      • May 29, 2018 at 2:37 pm

        I so don’t get this.

        There’s not one poster at this site who is more in favor of the automated strike zone than you. You recognize that there is a huge discrepancy between what pitches are and what they are called. And there is a decade’s worth of data that shows that this is not random.

        Pitch framing has absolutely nothing, zero to do with, what an umpire is thinking. To claim or even slightly hint that it does is ludicrous. The only thing that matters is where the pitch was and if the umpire called it a strike or a ball. It’s not what the umpire thinks — it’s what he does.

        And the criticism that an electronic strike zone would do away with the stat — well, so what? An electronic strike zone would be a fundamental change in how the game is played, not a minor tweak. Complaining that a change of this magnitude would render the stat obsolete is on par with saying that if we allowed pitchers to throw to any base, any time and any way they wanted to that we would no longer have balks. Or if we eliminated second base that we would no longer have doubles.

        • Pete In Iowa
          May 29, 2018 at 4:35 pm

          Purporting to think an umpire makes a ball or strike call based upon how the catcher catches the ball absolutely infers to know what the umpire is thinking. There is simply no way around it. The so-called good “pitch-framers” are said to get called strikes because of the way they catch the ball, even if it is outside the strike zone. This absolutely makes the case the umpire called a ball a strike because it was “well-framed”. This clearly goes to the state of mind of the umpire. It’s totally absurd to think otherwise — this is the entire and absolute point of “pitch framing” as it is applied to stats.
          An electronic strike zone would in no way — not even the slightest miniscule bit — alter the fundamental way the game is played as you seem to think it will. Balls will be balls and strikes will be strikes consistently and correctly. I fail to see how that would “change how the game is played.” Comparing it to a complete and total change to the balk rule as you proffer in your wild example is a totally pointless. The balk rule is the balk rule, just as the strike zone rule is the strike zone rule. Whether balls and strikes are continued to be called with the unacceptable rate of missed calls made manually in every single game, or by a proven reliable mechanical method (if perfected) will not change the strike zone rule. It will merely make it reliably consistent which it is not today — while at the same time eliminating the phantom notion of “pitch framing.”
          Was Gsellman’s “ball four” to Aqullar on Sunday a ball or a strike?? It seems everyone on the field, watching on TV and those in the stands thought it was a strike. Everyone, of course, except the home plate ump who completely missed the call. That one incorrect call, by the way, indeed “fundamentally changed” how the remainder of the game was played.

          • May 29, 2018 at 4:52 pm

            You’re contradicting yourself.

            In one paragraph you’re saying that it’s not going to change how the game is played and the very next graph you say it indeed fundamentally changed how the remainder of the game was played. You can’t have it both ways.

            The fact is that umpires miss calls. And it’s also a fact that some catchers are consistently better than others in getting strikes called. That you have a problem with measuring this and think that this is all a reflection on nothing more than an umpire’s whim is a very odd thing.

    • TexasGusCC
      May 29, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      David, I’m well aware of Mesoraco’s previous grades in pitch framing, but I was watching him catch Matz last week and he stole several strikes, including two in a big spot that Gameday had as outside. My eye test tells me he’s better than advertised.

    • Rae
      May 30, 2018 at 7:36 am

      I like Raco a lot, but neither he nor Plawecki can throw runners out. Lobaton and Nido cannot get base stealers out either. This leaves the Mets with Patrick Maizeka who has thrown out 31% of base stealers this year. He is not hitting in 2018 but he has hit in all of his other minor league campaigns. Behind Maizeka is Joe Domino who hits for average, has a bit of power, and is an excellent defensive catcher. Joe is nowhere near ready for the Majors at this point. When and if Maizeka starts hitting like he has in the past he will become a September call up. I figure the Mets well keep him in AAA Syracuse in 2019. I think the Mets are gonna sign Mesoraco as he is a free agent after the 2018 World Series.

  5. John Fox
    May 29, 2018 at 10:04 am

    They’ll both get plenty of action, I would tend to go with the hot hand at the time. As to Sandy Alderson or Mickey Callaway deciding who will get the start on a given day, thats just wrong. Thats got to be the managers call.

  6. name
    May 29, 2018 at 10:36 am

    No doubt it’s Mesoraco for me.

    In my book Plawecki is barely better than Lobaton

    • May 29, 2018 at 11:34 am

      Barely better than Lobaton? You can’t be serious. Last year Plawecki had a wRC+ over 100 vs Lobaton’s wRC+ being in the 30’s, and this year in a sss Plawecki is again over 100 vs Lobaton being in the 40’s.

      • name
        May 29, 2018 at 12:00 pm

        1000% serious.

        Plawecki’s career line: .223/.313/.309
        Lobaton: .216/.293/.320

        And before his big game yesterday he had a .593 OPS, which is in line with his pathetic production in 2015-2016. 2017 was a fluke, plus it was meaningless September stats.

        Even as a backup, he’s a fringe option. In a league with 60 catchers, i would rank him among the bottom 10.

        • May 29, 2018 at 12:09 pm

          He wasn’t ready in 2015-2016 and was rushed due to d’Arnaud’s injuries. Plawecki finally got time in AAA to develop he changed his swing, and his performance improved big time both in the minors and majors.

        • Pete In Iowa
          May 29, 2018 at 2:12 pm

          Nothing against Plawecki here, but his “big game” included a pair of weakly hit infield singles, one of which may have been the worst official scoring I have ever witnessed in an MLB game. The dribbler he hit to third was fielded cleanly by Camargo and then dropped as he was preparing to throw it to first. By rights, Plawecki would have been out by three steps on the play, but they gave him a hit.
          Just sayin.

  7. Chris F
    May 29, 2018 at 11:26 am

    Mesoraco until the ride/health fades. Then KP until the ride/health fades. Rinse, repeat.

    • JImO
      May 29, 2018 at 8:47 pm

      100% agreed with this statement.

  8. David Groveman
    May 29, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    I think with Kevin and Devin in the fold the Mets have two quality options at catcher but no player to hang their hats upon. If the Mets are serious about making a run they need another, better, catcher.

    • Chris F
      May 29, 2018 at 3:53 pm

      Agreed.

      KP = back up catcher to TdA
      DM = back up catcher to whats his name

      Ok, so our options are to go with a back up catcher and well, a back up catcher. Im thinking the team may need to improve on this position. Hmm, have heard that before? Also, I wonder, werent a lot of folks saying we needed more starting pitching, beyond 4-5-6 level guys? And so it is…

      • May 29, 2018 at 5:14 pm

        Why is the assumption that Mesoraco is a backup catcher?

        He was a first-round draft pick and in 2012 John Sickels said, “Mesoraco has become special.” and gave him a Grade A-

        He became a starting catcher in 2013, made the All-Star team in 2014 and then has battled injuries the past three years. That the Reds found someone who could stay healthy and produce does not mean that Mesoraco is a backup.

  9. Pete In Iowa
    May 29, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    It’s way too early to make any kind of real determination at this point on either guy.
    Will Mesoraco continue to hit and stay healthy?
    Will Plawecki finally come into his own as a hitter and improve defensively?
    Two very big questions that simply can’t be answered at this point.
    One thing seems assured — d’Arnaud will be non-tendered this off-season. And that’s a good thing.

  10. May 29, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    Well, with Syndergaard hitting the DL today, the question may have been answered for them.

    • Mike Walczak
      May 29, 2018 at 5:44 pm

      It is a simple question. Are we happy with what we got from the Reds for Harvey? The answer has to be yes.

  11. MattyMetd
    May 30, 2018 at 7:23 am

    A healthy Plawecki gives us a 14-man bullpen. The Angels May have Ohtani…

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