The Cubs aren’t making a change at their catcher position in 2019, as Victor Caratini is penciled in to be the backup to Willson Contreras. That means we’re either going to see more playing time for Caratini to give Contreras more rest in 2019, or more of the same and just hope Contreras can handle the work load.
We saw in 2018, that Contreras struggled in the second half and fatigue was definitely a factor. He went from catching 821 innings in 2017, to a career high 1,110 in 2018. He led MLB in innings and games caught. Contreras is one of several young players the Cubs are hoping for big, bounce back seasons in 2019, but it doesn’t sound like Joe Maddon is going to be changing the amount of playing time.
Maddon said he doesn't believe fatigue was a factor in Contreras' offensive struggles in 2nd half & doesn't mind that WC led league in inns caught.
"That speaks to the other catchers. Maybe you don't want somebody to catch that often on the other teams. Somebody's gotta lead."
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) February 18, 2019
Fine, obviously you want Contreras out there as much as possible, but whether it’s physical fatigue or mental fatigue as a manager you have to put your players in the best position to succeed. We just saw Contreras lead the majors, catching in 123 games, and was out of gas in the final couple months. Maybe it’s time to adjust how you spread out his starts.
And that brings us to Maddon’s lie, or maybe he was looking at the wrong numbers.
Maddon reviewed Contreras’ 2018 schedule, said he started only four consecutive games once. Said fatigue was more mental than physical.
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) February 18, 2019
Maddon claims Contreras only started four straight games once. However, that was quickly debunked.
Huh? I count five times Willson caught four complete games in four days:
Also caught parts of 9 straight days in late June (7 full gms).
He caught more innings than anyone in baseball, and ~ 150 more innings than a typical starter. https://t.co/ATlo8z5nLa
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 18, 2019
Re-check those numbers, Joe.
In 2018, Contreras got off to a great start, slashing .279/.360/.449, and earned a spot in the NL All-Star team. After the break he only hit .200/.291/.294, with three home runs in nearly 200 at-bats.
Contreras might be the most passionate player on the Cubs, but sometimes you do have to hold him back. Maybe it is smarter to give him a few extra off days, or not play him on consecutive days as much as Maddon did in 2018.
If it means more Victor Caratini fine because it may pay off at the end.
A better start overall for the team will obviously help Maddon not have to over extend his players if the team doesn’t have to chase other teams in the division.