Washington Nationals: Comparing Pitchers in the National League East
By Tim James
After getting anemic production from its starting catching crew in 2018, Washington traded for Yan Gomes and signed veteran free agent Kurt Suzuki before the 2019 season. The Gomes acquisition has been a disappointment, as the one-time All-Star struggles to hit above the Mendoza Line and has been less than effective at times defensively as well. As poor as the trade for Gomes has been so far, the decision to bring Suzuki back to Washington has been brilliant.
The well-respected veteran has hit 11 home runs and driven in 39 in part-time play so far and has worked well with the Nats’ pitching staff. Although some would like to see Suzuki in the lineup regularly, an argument can be made that manager Davey Martinez’s decision play the 35-year-old on a part-time basis has helped keep his production up.
The blue-collar pair who toil behind the plate in Atlanta may be short on flash, but they are solid in production. No-nonsense veteran Brian McCann has provided decent production (eight homers, 32 RBI) as the team’s primary catcher, and has been a dependable and steady presence behind the plate. Solidly built Tyler Flowers has allowed a league-leading 11 passed balls, but he has excellent power and provides adequate on-base skills as a hitter.
While the Phillies paid a high price to acquire All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto from division rival Miami during the off-season, Realmuto has been relatively effective in his first year in Phils’ colors. His OPS+ of 96 is significantly below the career-high 128 marks he put up in 2018, but Realmuto remains a threat at the plate who is also a strong defensive backstop. The Phillies’ lack of an effective backup for Realmuto may be something the team needs to address to keep Realmuto from wearing down in the season’s final weeks.
Grading the catchers:
Philadelphia: B Realmuto is solid but can he survive the workload?
Atlanta: B- Will steady and slow win the race?
Washington: C Better than in 2018, but average at best.