The Milwaukee Brewers have been deploying both Manny Pina and Erik Kratz behind the plate for most of the season. While Pina originally had the starting job, Kratz has been getting more playing time lately.
It’s a question that most Brewers fans haven’t really pondered much this season. While Manny Pina was the starting catcher the whole year and he struggled at the plate early on, there weren’t any better options available.
Enter Erik Kratz. Kratz has been a solid addition to the club and he’s been able to provide some offense as well.
Over the past seven games, Kratz has five starts, and Pina only has two. Pina has been healthy, and has better overall stats on the season.
Why Isn’t Pina Starting More?
Offensively, it makes little sense. Over the past 14 days, Manny Pina owns a .313/.421/.500 slash line in 16 ABs, while Kratz owns a .136/.286/.273 line in 22 ABs over the same amount of time.
Neither one is hits left handed pitchers particularly well. Both of them have better numbers on the road than at home.
The only reason I can see for Kratz getting so many starts, is because of his pitch framing ability. It’s been a big plus for the finesse pitchers like Zach Davies and Wade Miley, who rely on getting those extra strike calls.
The abundance of finesse pitchers in the Milwaukee Brewers starting rotation is likely the reason for Kratz’s recent string of starts. While Manny Pina has a cannon for an arm, he’s not as good of a pitch framer as Kratz is.
Going To A Tandem Catching Situation?
This no longer appears to be a “starter and backup” situation for the Brewers. Both are splitting playing time and the theme for Counsell’s expanded roster is all about matchups. Counsell is playing whatever matchups he deems best improves the Crew’s chances of winning. Lately, that’s been mostly Kratz.
Whatever numbers Counsell looks at to make his decision, it’s been working well as the Brewers have won six straight series.
But it’s still a little odd that Pina, who has been hot at the plate, isn’t getting more playing time. If Counsell were riding the hot hand, Pina would be in there a lot more often. Pina is hitting about 180 points better than Kratz is over the past two weeks.
Counsell will likely continue to play matchups and go back and forth between the two catchers. Both are very capable defenders and bring a lot to this team.