The Brewers have been desperate for offense most of this season, and Manny Pina should be in the lineup more often.
It seems almost cruel, how Manny Pina has dealt with playing time over the last few years. He proved himself to be a solid big league catcher as the regular starter in 2017 and 2018, but the Brewers wanted a little bit more.
They went out and signed Yasmani Grandal for the 2019 season, which put Pina into the backup role. After Grandal left in free agency and Pina was once again poised to be the starter, the Brewers acquired Omar Narvaez, putting Pina back into the secondary catcher role for 2020.
Now, as the season has gotten underway, Pina is showing that he deserves some more playing time.
Manny Pina Is The Hot Hand
The plan coming into 2020 was a semi-platoon between Pina and Narvaez behind the dish, with Narvaez getting the bulk of the starts. Narvaez is a lefty that would start most games against RHPs while Pina would start games against LHPs.
However, as the season has gone on, Narvaez’s bat has been slow to heat up, while Pina has gotten off to a blistering start, including a multi-homer game against the Twins on Tuesday night.
After Tuesday’s game, Pina is hitting .368/.478/.737 with a 1.215 OPS, two home runs, and just three strikeouts.
Sure this is just 19 at-bats, but he’s looked good at the plate.
Meanwhile, Narvaez is hitting a paltry .194/.342/.226 with a .568 OPS, no home runs, and 10 strikeouts over 31 at-bats.
At some point, especially when the offense is been struggling the way it has been, as the manager, Craig Counsell has to go with the hot hand and keep Pina in the lineup.
With consistent at-bats, Pina has proven himself to be a solid contributor over the years. In 2017, with 330 ABs, Pina hit .279 with a .757 OPS, 21 doubles, and nine home runs. In 2018, with 306 ABs, Pina hit .252 with a .702 OPS and nine home runs.
He’s not going to make any All-Star teams with his offense, but Pina is a solid offensive catcher that can hit enough to stay in the lineup everyday with the strong defensive reputation to make a manager want to put him in the lineup every single day.
Although Narvaez has made some improvements defensively, Pina is still the superior defender behind the plate and, right now, Pina is also the superior offensive player.
Since Pina has been performing better in both aspects, he should be getting the bulk of the starts behind the plate right now. It’s that simple.
Yes, the Brewers have a decent amount invested in Narvaez and see him as the starting catcher going forward, but you have to ride the hot hand right now if the Brewers are going to stay in this postseason race. That hot hand is Manny Pina.