It’s not fair to nitpick Terry Collins’ strategical decisions in the first game of the year, and his first game managing in the bigs in a dozen years. And in fact, I’m not sure he made any poor choices during the contest, but there was one move that was particularly “telling”.
The move in question was pointed out in the Game 1 comments section by MetsToday reader “Izzy”:
Most telling move of the night was Collins giving Thole the hook for a PH. If this is the guy we’ve been reading so much positive stuff about, he should be given at least one chance to hit a lefty, shouldn’t he?
Izzy has a point here. While from any manager’s standpoint, the move made plenty of sense, it also is “telling” in that it displayed how the Mets plan to handle Josh Thole — in the near term, at least.
To refresh your memory, the score was 5-2 with men on first and second with two outs and Thole scheduled to hit. Hard-throwing LOOGY Mike Dunn came in to face Thole, who has a career .158 AVG / .411 OPS against lefthanded pitchers. Collins sent up the righthanded-hitting Scott Hairston to pinch-hit.
It made perfect sense from many angles. Statistically, Hairston was the better match-up. Further, Hairston was hitting like Barry Bonds in March, and Collins was hoping for the long ball in that situation.
But the move also suggested that Thole would be used in platoon role, rather than as a true starting catcher. Maybe we knew this all along, but there are many fans out there with hopes that the team would allow Thole to take his lumps against lefties, so that he might one day be able to hit them with better frequency. Instead, we can likely expect to see Ronny Paulino used against most if not all LHPs once he returns healthy, and we will probably see Thole removed in similar situations in the near future.
Of course, this can change as the season goes along. But will Thole get the chance to prove he can hit lefties anytime soon?
What do you think? Should Thole be given opportunities vs. lefties in big situations, particularly right now while the team waits for Paulino?
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers.