New York Mets skipper Terry Collins made a mind-boggling decision to start Travis d’Arnaud over Rene Rivera on Monday night.When Terry Collins inserted Travis d’Arnaud into the Mets lineup on Monday night, he was desperate for his bat.
Was he desperate for his glove, though?
On a normal night, this wouldn’t even be a discussion. D’Arnaud is the team’s starting catcher and a far superior hitter than Rene Rivera.
However, this was no normal night.
The Amazin’s were facing their division rivals in a colossal contest with Noah Syndergaard on the mound.
Thor had gotten into a groove with Rivera behind the plate, surrendering a mere nine runs in 36.2 innings pitched with Rivera catching him.
Many are skeptical of the impact any one catcher can make on a pitcher, but there’s been prior research to support this claim.
“…I would extend the hypothesis that catcher’s do influence pitcher performance, in that different catchers call different games that result in balls being more weakly put into play,” Rhubarb35 wrote for FanGraphs in 2011.
How has Rivera influenced “Thor?”
Well, for starters, the duo passes the eye test in terms of communication. They typically appear to be on the same page, with Syndergaard growing more comfortable with Rivera every time they take the field together.
Then there’s the threat of Rivera’s arm, which can be described as — pardon the use of a hockey term — a howitzer.
While there was very little d’Arnaud could’ve done to keep runners from stealing bases, courtesy of Syndergaard’s prolonged delivery, the thought of Rivera alone gives potential base stealers pause.
That’s before we even mention the chemistry the two had built together. To steal a term from Icona Pop, the tandem was “On A Roll.”
So it was certainly a surprise when the Mets manager had d’Arnaud in the lineup instead of Rivera.
Now, of course this article wouldn’t have even been written if not for Syndergaard’s implosion. It wasn’t written to convey the message that d’Arnaud could’ve prevented it from happening.
Rather, it’s the baffling move of Collins to send d’Arnaud out there that bothers me. And it begs the following question: if Syndergaard wasn’t fully healthy, why the hell was he on the mound, and if he was fully healthy, why was d’Arnaud catching him?
We may never know the answer.