Maybe the Mets don’t need a catcher after all.
Back in August is you looked at the Mets roster, before the purge, you would say they needed a catcher, because none of their young guys were panning out.
Now, though, circumstances may have changed. Travis d’Arnaud has taken the catcher’s job and made it his own. Tonight, he hit his 16th home run this season in the Mets 3-2 win over the Braves to split the doubleheader and is hitting .321 this past month with six homers.
“I’m seeing an absolutely outstanding quick bat right now,” said manager Terry Collins. “He’s taking good swings at the baseball and his confidence is up.”
This is the d’Arnaud we saw in 2015, when he was a vital cog with the Mets during the stretch run and postseason. Last year was a step back and even a good part of this season.
But the power is there, and he’s looking really like a keeper right now.
“These things happen during the year,” d’Arnaud said of his streak. “I would say, I am just staying with the routine and accountability with my work.”
The Mets have always had great catchers in their history and d’Arnaud isn’t going to be Mike Piazza or Gary Carter. Heck, he’s not Todd Hunley or even Paul Lo Duca. No, he’s never going to have the tremendous power of past Met catchers, but that’s okay, having mid-teens range is all he needs.
More importantly, d’Arnaud has become a better catcher this season with his handling of pitches behind the plate. Again, he’s never going to be Jerry Grote or even John Sterns, behaving good power and able to handle himself behind the dish is what the Mets are looking for these days.
Look around the league and you will see there aren’t too many great catchers anymore. Yadier Molina is the exception to the rule. Instead, what catchers are now are handlers of pitchers who take their orders from management. They are implementers of policy, instead of the callers of games.
The Mets know what they will get from d’Arnaud and they can plan around it. Bringing in a Jonathan Lucroy or someone else means the new catcher will have to learn the whole pitching staff. The Mets know with the right rest of the team, d’Arnaud can handle the staff. Heck, he brought them to the World Series a couple of years ago.
That doesn’t mean they don’t need a good backup. D’Arnaud has spent time on the disabled list every year and next year will be the same. Maybe Kevin Plawecki, who is hitting better, is the answer or maybe Tomas Nido, who caught Game 1 of the double header is the one.
Or maybe they will go and get someone like Renee Rivera again, who specializes in defense, while d’Arnaud handles the offense.
The Mets have a number of changes to do this off-season. They need to get a few more hitters and sure up the staff.
A month ago, you would have had catcher on that list.