Tom Murphy emerging as Rockies’ primary catcher, but many questions remain

MILWAUKEE — The Rockies continue searching for the right combination behind the plate. So far, the results have been mixed.

Ideally, manager Bud Black wants someone who calls a great game, is a coach on the diamond and works in concert with his pitchers. Getting some consistent slugging would be nice, too. But two-thirds of the way into the season, production at the plate has been lacking.

Chris Iannetta, Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy have combined for a .204 average (13th in the National League), a .634 OPS (13th) and 10 home runs (12th). They’re going to need to be better in the final third of the season.

Murphy, who started Friday night’s game against the Brewers, is looking more and more like Colorado’s primary catcher. It was his seventh start in the last 11 games. He’s certainly putting in the work to improve, spending the hours before a game studying scouting reports of opposing hitters.

“I would say that 95 percent of my video work goes into my catching,” Murphy said. “And I have a lot of stats to work with. As a catcher, I have a ton of numbers I can work with about the hitters we face, and I rely on my gut instincts, too.”

Black said Murphy’s dedication is beginning to pay off.

“Knowing our scouting report and how we are going to attack a lineup? I think ‘Murph’ follows that very well,” Black said. “Also, instinctively, as the game unfolds, I think he sees what a pitcher is able to do on a given night.”

Murphy has slumped at the plate lately, but entered Friday’s game hitting a respectable .247 with two home runs and 11 RBIs since being recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque on June 12.

Given Murphy’s emergence, I find it curious why Colorado continues to carry three catchers on its 25-man roster. Black said there are reasons.

“We brought ‘Murph’ up at a time when Chris and Tony were in a little bit of an offensive lull, and Murphy was really swinging the bat well in Triple-A,” Black said. “The thought was to bring up ‘Murph’ to see if we could find an offensive spark at the bottom of the order.”

Black also said that having three catchers enables the Rockies to use Iannetta as a “right-handed threat” off the bench. He also said that Wolters provides defense and can be used as a pinch runner for Iannetta.

“We have flexibility with those three guys,” Black said. “It made sense at the time we did it, and it’s made sense up until now.”

The Rockies also like to match their pitchers up with certain catchers. Lately, Iannetta has often been paired with Kyle Freeland, while Murphy has worked behind the plate during Jon Gray‘s resurgence.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *