Just before the Tuesday night game between the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox, Braves catcher Evan Gattis was scratched from the lineup. It was reported that Gattis had injured his wrist while taking his pre-game cuts, and footage taken of Gattis during batting practice showed him shaking his wrist after a swing and immediately leaving the field.
His reaction and the nature of wrist injuries indicates that it may be some time before Gattis is back in the lineup.
If the Braves’ starting catcher does miss extended time, it would be a big blow. Atlanta’s offense has been heavily reliant on home runs, and Gattis ranks second on the team with 10 homers. Backup catchers Gerald Laird and Ryan Doumit have combined for only one home run in just 24 fewer plate appearances than Gattis. Both Laird and Doumit are hitting under .240, and neither is slugging over .333.
Gattis is also better at some of the catching intangibles than either of his backups. He ranks right around league average in pitch framing metrics, whereas Laird and Doumit have been among the worst pitch framers in baseball over the past few seasons. Laird is better than Gattis at throwing out would-be base-stealers, but he’s not as strong defensively as he once was.
The Braves certainly won’t make a move for another catcher if Gattis’ injury does prove to be serious. Still, Fredi Gonzalez and Frank Wren would have decisions to make. Doumit is a better hitter and can hit switch, but he’s below average at throwing out baserunners and a defensive liability.
Laird would be better behind the plate, but would be a liability in the lineup. They could also choose to call up Christian Bethancourt, who would be a major improvement defensively but has struggled with the bat in the minors.
It may turn out that the injury is minor and Gattis will not have to miss much time. If he does go on the DL, however, the Braves will lose power in the lineup that they desperately need.