Who Will Pitch and Catch On Sunday?

Going by the regular order of the Mets’ 5-man starting rotation, it will be knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s turn to take the mound for Sunday’s ballgame against the Dodgers. Generally speaking, Josh Thole has been R.A.’s unofficial personal catcher — so the battery would tentatively be Dickey and Thole. However, there is some discussion that could change before tomorrow.

According to Adam Rubin, there is a chance that the Mets push Dickey’s start back one day and give the ball to Dillon Gee on Sunday. Such a move would give all of the Mets starters an extra day of rest; whether that is a good thing or a bad thing so early in the season is anyone’s guess. Per Rubin’s source, the Mets are concerned with keeping Gee in “starter” condition, and he’s been pitching exclusively out of the bullpen for the past two weeks. Getting a start in on Sunday would help keep up his endurance.

Not to mention, it would keep Dickey from pitching — and pitching to Thole — for an extra day. Based on his performances this year, R.A. has “fallen to earth” compared to the incredible season he had in 2010. It’s not that Dickey has been horrible, it’s just that he hasn’t been much more than, say, a fifth starter to this point. In contrast, Gee has pitched very well in his two MLB starts of 2011 — a fine carryover from his five strong starts at the end of 2010. Granted, it’s a small sample size, but the kid has earned an opportunity to get more starts at the big-league level — particularly considering that no one in the current Mets rotation has outperformed him over the same time period.

There is another twist to Sunday’s game: the Dodgers are scheduled to send lefthander Clayton Kershaw to the mound. Thole doesn’t hit lefties well, but Ronny Paulino crushes them. It would be convenient to start Gee and have Paulino catch him.

One more possibility: Dickey takes his regular start on Sunday and Paulino — rather than Thole — catches him. Some people both inside and outside the Mets theorize that Thole’s recent struggles behind the dish may have something to do with catching the knuckleball. If Terry Collins and his coaching staff believe there is something to that theory, they may decide to have Paulino catch Dickey tomorrow — and possibly indefinitely. Also according to Adam Rubin, Paulino caught Dickey’s bullpen session on Friday. The results were mixed, depending on whom you talk to.

What do you think? Does it make sense to see a Gee / Paulino battery on Sunday? Post your opinion in the comments.

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. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Paul May 7, 2011 at 6:56 pm
    If Paulino is going to have to catch Dickey someday, why not start tomorrow? He can’t do much worse behind the plate than Thole has this season.

    I don’t see a reason to shuffle the rotation to accommodate Dillon Gee – he should be starting in Buffalo if the Mets don’t have a set role for him at the major league level.

    • Joe Janish May 7, 2011 at 8:49 pm
      As it turned out, Gee starts tonight. I’m going to go on a limb and guess that Paulino catches Dickey — or Young, if Young can “get loose” — tomorrow.
  2. Ham May 7, 2011 at 8:55 pm
    Any idea what was wrong with Young tonight? I know on the broadcast, they haven’t given any more information than that he found himself unable to get loose. Do you have any idea what that might really mean?
  3. Mic May 8, 2011 at 9:31 am
    Paulino needs to be dickeys catcher and I think has earned a 60-40 split in starts. Plus decreased time allows thole to focus on his game calling and decreases his exposure, no sense in ‘rushing’ him.