This shouldn’t be seen as an indictment of Travis d’Arnaud, but the New York Mets need to play him less and backup catcher Anthony Recker more. The obvious reason for this is the fact that the Mets are 6-0 this season in games that Recker starts. Obviously that perfect record won’t stay intact all year, and the Mets can just as easily lose the next six games that Recker starts. But the reasons why d’Arnaud needs to take more days off and Recker should play more run deeper than the Mets’ early-season success with Recker behind the plate.
Even though d’Arnaud has just started to get going swinging the bat over the last week and a half, the biggest complaint about d’Arnaud from scouts this season is that he lacks energy and doesn’t look strong at the plate, showing slider bat speed. If d’Arnaud is going to keep up his strength over the course of the season, he’s going to need plenty of off days to make sure he doesn’t wear down, allowing more playing time for Recker.
The issue that d’Arnaud has is that he’s not accustomed to playing a lot of games. Due to injuries, he played just 67 games in the minors in 2012, and injuries limited him to 63 games between the minors and the big leagues last season. Even if d’Arnaud can double the number of games he played from last year, he’s going to need plenty of days off. If the Mets expect to stay competitive all season and want d’Arnaud playing regularly in August and September, they’ll need give him more days off early in the season; simply sitting him in day games following night games may not be enough.
Aside from strength and stamina, d’Arnaud also has a long history of injuries throughout his entire career in the minors. The Mets need to do what they can to help guard against d’Arnaud suffering another injury. Sitting him a game or two every week is preferable to losing him for an extended period of time.
As for Recker, he’s not a bad player to put in the lineup more frequently than the average backup catcher. He’s a quality defensive catcher who is helpful in preventing stolen bases. Offensively, he won’t hit for a high average, but Recker does hit a lot of home runs for a player who doesn’t get a lot of at bats. Considering the way the Mets have lacked power this season, it can’t hurt to put Recker in the lineup a little more often if they aren’t getting home runs from the middle of the order.
With a catcher like d’Arnaud who has a history of injuries and a lack strength and stamina, in part because of those injuries, the Mets need to careful with him and give him a few more off days than usual — especially with a solid backup like Recker. That’s why Recker needs to play a little more and d’Arnaud a little less moving forward.