This is a graphic that takes a little bit of explanation. But mostly it’s self explanatory. For each starting pitcher, it generally tracks the trends of which catcher starts with each pitcher. The purpose was not to make a point, but it really emphasizes how much Dusty views the catcher’s position as a defensive position – and that he sees the catcher as very important to the pitcher who happens to be on the mound. Now, this just took a little elbow grease and conditional formatting. Also, the timeline isn’t precise. Note, for example, Arroyo, because I wanted to not have gaps in the columns of pitchers who weren’t missing starts, I included only five slots per month, although, obviously, a pitcher who makes every start will probably have six starts two or three times. Arroyo, for example, made 32 starts, which have been shoved into 30 slots. Arroyo was a bit of an easy case because he is almost exclusively caught by Hanigan – thus, I just filled in everything with Hanigan, except the last two slots. Anyhoodle, without further ado:
This is actually pretty nice when it comes to having two catchers with nearly equal playing time – you really get a sense of your manager – I mean, just in comparison to say, St. Louis, where Molina gets a sort of crazily large number of starts as the catcher, and you know he’s there because he’s their best catcher, not necessarily because he’s matched up to the pitcher or anything else. For the Reds, Ryan and Ramon also don’t have a lot of offensive distinctions. Yes, they definitely have different strengths in the batter’s box, but they’re both righties, have similar GB/FB numbers, and neither is very fast.
To an extent, both catchers are assigned to certain pitchers. While Hanigan is Arroyo’s specifically requested guy, Hanigan also get’s the lion’s share of Bailey’s starts, all of Sam LeCure’s four, and Chad Reineke’s lone start. The Hanigan/Arroyo combo has been a thing since 2009 – and in this article Dusty actually outright says he doesn’t like the designated catcher idea. Well, maybe he just meant a very strict designated catcher routine, or maybe he changed his mind a little. Because addition to Hanigan’s guys, Hernandez also almost exclusively caught Volquez, Cueto, and Willis. Volquez and Cueto are obvious because of the language issue. (Although I don’t have any records, it seems like the interwebs consensus is that Ryan Hanigan can’t speak much Spanish. And, even so, there’s pretty much no way he speaks it as well as Hernandez). On Hanigan’s side, Ryan was in the Reds minor league system from 06-08, essentially, so he probably caught Bailey and Lecure – although it looks like Wood and Reineke to have played with him at AA or AAA.
While Bailey gets shifted to Hernandez occasionally (perhaps to make the playing time come out right) Travis Wood has clearly been told to take whatever catcher he gets and deal with it. Mike Leake is also an interesting case. At the beginning of the season, he was caught by Hernandez exclusively, but after he came back to the majors, he got switched to Hanigan . Perhaps because at that point Hernandez was juggling Cueto and Volquez and didn’t need a third ‘assigned’ pitcher? And when Wood took off, Leake got to be the designated collector of miscellaneous catcher starts. And then when Volquez got sent down, Willis took his place on Hernandez’s schedule? Pretty speculative in any case.
And I’m probably reading too much into it, I think it’s interesting that Devin Mesoraco got his first start with Dontrelle Willis – who he’s probably shared the most AAA time with.