The confetti is still falling from David Price‘s first start with the Toronto Blue Jays, a win that moved them into a tie with the Minnesota Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot. Lost in the excitement prior to the game, however, was a surprising report from Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi on Blue Jays Central that the organization was considering recalling Josh Thole to serve as R.A. Dickey‘s catcher. Here we go again.
Toronto rolled with three catchers for much of 2014 and this is a discussion that I’d hoped was long buried. R.A. Dickey is on arguably his greatest stretch as a member of the Blue Jays, so it seems extremely odd to mess with a good thing. The likely reasoning here would lie more with Russell Martin, whose time catching the knuckleball has been physically demanding. In Dickey’s most recent outing, Martin took several pitches off the thumb of his glove and was in noticeable pain.
Now, Martin obviously isn’t able to catch every day, and I understand there is some remote logic in pairing Thole with Dickey to remove Martin’s most taxing point in the rotation. Dioner Navarro has never shown us the ability to handle Dickey’s knuckleball, either, so if this Thole scenario truly does play out, where does it leave Navarro? In a worse situation than he began this season.
With AAA Buffalo this season, Josh Thole has a triple-slash line of (sit down for this…) .205 / .297 . /.213. While he’s obviously capable of bumping those numbers up a bit, I’m struggling to see this roster supporting both Munenori Kawasaki and Josh Thole, assuming Aaron Loup is the next domino to fall out of the eight-man bullpen.
Looking at Dickey’s career numbers, Josh Thole has caught him for 827.0 career innings. The 20 other catchers to work with Dickey at the MLB level don’t reach that number combined. While the familiarity is nice, Dickey has certainly not performed any worse working with Martin.
Over 98.1 innings working with Martin, Dickey has posted an impressive 3.29 ERA with an opponent’s batting average of .224. When compared to his Thole numbers of a 3.57 ERA and .245 average, there’s clearly no performance advantage here.
Again, this brings us back to Russell Martin and the toll that Dickey’s knuckleball takes on both his body and catching schedule. There’s a small shred of sense to this that you’ll need to squint to see, but none of this is adding up to me when I look at the 25-man roster. This leads me to expect that something else could happen alongside this potential move, which thankfully, remains just a report at this time. All eyes on you, Alex Anthopoulos.