Washington Nationals catcher Pedro Severino has impressed in all facets of the game in 2018. He should not dethrone Matt Wieters as the starter, but they could platoon.
Matt Wieters and Miguel Montero began the season as the Nats’ catchers, but Wieters suffered an oblique injury after just two games. All of a sudden, there was a spot for Severino on the active roster.
Then, Montero went on paternity leave and Severino temporarily became the everyday catcher. This was an unexpected opportunity that may have taken Severino by surprise, but he took full advantage of it.
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The 24-year-old backstop impressed the Nats to the point that Montero was designated for assignment when he and Wieters returned. Now, Severino has secured his spot on the major league roster.
While the Nats made the correct decision to keep Severino over Montero, Severino should not serve as an ordinary backup. Instead, he and Wieters should platoon.
As a switch-hitter, Wieters is a perfect platoon partner. He is capable of hitting from both sides of the plate, but is a better left-handed hitter. Severino, meanwhile, is strictly a right-handed hitter.
Because of Wieters’ offensive prowess from the left-side and Severino’s right-handedness, Wieters should start against righties and Severino should start against lefties.
In addition to helping the Nats match up against opposing pitchers, a platoon would benefit both Wieters and Severino.
When Wieters produced the worst season of his career last year, fatigue was believed to be a factor. He got off to a great start in April, but struggled in all facets of the game afterwards.
Wieters lost 15 pounds this offseason and has already shown signs of improvement, but a limited workload would help him stay fresh. In order to limit his workload, Severino can start against lefties.
By primarily starting against lefties, Severino receives playing time and experience without dealing with the expectations of a typical starting catcher. He is still just 24 years old, but he could become the primary catcher as early as 2019.
Pitchers have raved about Severino’s energy and defensive prowess behind the plate, but he is producing at the plate as well. In 12 games, he has slashed .286/.405/.343 with five RBI and a stolen base.
Meanwhile, Wieters is a solid receiver and veteran presence behind the plate. He is not much of an offensive threat, but has shown encouraging signs since working with Kevin Long.
In order to effectively utilize both catchers, the Nats should implement a platoon. It is not often that a team has two strong catchers, but, in Wieters and Severino, the Nats have just that.