Posted on April 13, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
To this point in the season, the New York Mets have just one loss on their record. However, somehow the club managed to suffer two losses in a single day this week. Those two losses came in the form of catchers Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki, who will both be on the DL for the foreseeable future.
On Wednesday, the Mets shockingly announced that d’Arnaud had been placed on the DL with a tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. The injury is far more common with pitchers and may force d’Arnaud to undergo Tommy John surgery. If that’s the case, he will likely miss the rest of the 2018 season.
“I was just shocked when I heard the news,” d’Arnaud said Thursday. “I was surprised, but what can you do? I just couldn’t believe it.”
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Despite the personal setback, d’Arnaud expressed confidence that Plawecki would do a great job as the team’s primary catcher. However, the same day the Mets announced that d’Arnaud was heading to the DL, Plawecki was hit in the hand by Marlins pitcher Tayron Guerrero.
Initial X-rays were negative, making the Mets believe they had dodged a bullet. However, an MRI performed Thursday revealed that Plawecki has a hairline fracture in his left hand. The injury will not require surgery. But Plawecki is expected to miss a minimum of two or three weeks.
The Mets entered the season expecting a timeshare behind the plate between d’Arnaud and Plawecki. While d’Arnaud has struggled offensively at times but still has plenty of upside with the bat. Plawecki, on the other hand, finished 2017 strong and has proven to be a solid receiver behind the plate for New York’s talented pitching staff. The Mets must now start from scratch at the catcher position.
Even if d’Arnaud can somehow avoid Tommy John surgery, which seems unlikely at this point, he’s unlikely to return anytime soon. Plawecki, meanwhile, isn’t likely to return until some time in May, at the earliest.
When d’Arnaud went to the DL on Wednesday, the Mets called up prospect Tomas Nido to serve as the backup to Plawecki. Nido has become a solid defensive catcher. However, aside from 11 career big league at-bats, he’s never played above double-A. At this point, he’s probably not ready to be a regular contributor on a major league team, especially one that looks like a contender.
With Plawecki joining d’Arnaud on the DL, the Mets will bring up veteran Jose Lobaton, who began the season in triple-A. Lobaton is a career .218 hitter in the big leagues, so he doesn’t have the offensive upside of d’Arnaud or Plawecki. On the bright side, he’s likely a defensive upgrade over both d’Arnaud and Plawecki, who have struggled to throw out opposing runners early in the season.
Even as a short-term solution, the duo of Lobaton and Nido is not ideal for the Mets. The club has grown accustomed to dealing with injuries in recent years. But dealing with the loss of both catchers in quick succession was not a challenge they expected. Eventually, the Mets could end up in the market for a catcher. For now, they have to hope that Lobaton and Nido can do their part to keep the wins coming.