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.