In order for a team to win the World Series, they need a surprise player to step up. Kurt Suzuki appears to be that guy for the Washington Nationals.
But at the time, many thought Gomes would be the primary backstop and get most of the starts.
It ended up being split pretty evenly throughout the regular season, but Gomes did play in more games.
However, it’s been Suzuki that the Washington Nationals have ridden in the postseason.
Suzuki has started nine of the Nationals 12 games in the postseason. And he probably would have started Game 1 of the NLCS had he not been hit in the face in Game 5 of the NLDS.
And you would think Suzuki is in there for his offense, but he’s hitting just .107 in the postseason, while Gomes is hitting .308 in just 13 postseason at-bats.
Gomes is by far the better defensive catcher, according to FanGraphs. Suzuki has a defensive rating of -4.9 with -14 defensive runs saved, while Gomes is at 8.5 with 5 defensive runs saved.
And Gomes has done a much better job of throwing out runners with 18 caught stealing in 59 chances compared to just 5 in 50 chances for Suzuki.
But despite all of that, Dave Martinez has stuck with Suzuki throughout the postseason, and he’s starting to be rewarded in the World Series.
It was very obvious in Game 1 that Suzuki saved Max Scherzer on several occasions by blocking balls in the dirt. I’d have to go back and count to be sure, but it seems like there were at least pitches in the dirt that he smothered to keep runners where they were.
And then in Game 2, he made one of the biggest plays of the game by cutting down Jose Altuve at third base in the first inning.
But it’s not just behind the plate where he’s made an impact on this World Series, it’s at the plate as well.
You could make the case that Suzuki is directly responsible for starting both Washington rallies that led to wins in games one and two.
In Game 1 with the two teams tied at 2, Suzuki led off the fifth inning with a walk and later came around to score to give the Nats the lead. Juan Soto capped the rally that inning with a 2 RBI double that would eventually be the difference in the game.
And then in Game 2 he stepped to the plate in a tie game once again, this time in the seventh, and gave the Nats the lead with a solo home run off Justin Verlander.
As we know, that would start a huge rally for the Nats as they scored 6 runs in the seventh, which would be plenty for the win.
Before the series we wrote about the 3 keys for the Washington Nationals to win the World Series. One of those keys was having someone unexpected come up big, and right now that person is Kurt Suzuki.