Tomas Nido is a defense-first catcher who could find a permanent role with the New York Mets as Noah Syndergaard’s personal catcher.
Personal catchers come in waves. When R.A. Dickey pitched for the New York Mets, Josh Thole had the duty of catching him every fifth day to handle his knuckleball. We’ve seen other notable cases like Eddie Perez working exclusively with Greg Maddux during his career.
In most cases, teams will avoid carrying a personal catcher as it limits the choices a manager can make. However, it may benefit someone like Noah Syndergaard to have a backstop he can work with one-on-one.
Syndergaard was not his usual dominant self for most of 2018. Although he did manage to toss his first complete game as a professional player, there are way too many starts prior where he wasted pitches and exited early. The strikeout totals were down, the walk numbers were up, and Thor was nothing more than above average.
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From him, we expect so much more.
When the Mets employed Rene Rivera in the big leagues, he often worked with Syndergaard. Now 35, he’s back with the team on a minor league deal. The problem here is that his offensive production makes Tomas Nido looks like Mike Piazza. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Neither is very good with a bat in his hand.
Speaking of Nido, what about him? The kid has a reputation as a plus-defender. Could he work his way into the role of Syndergaard’s personal catcher?
Nido did catch both of Syndergaard’s complete games in 2018. Could the pair actually be a good match?
Nido’s sub-.200 batting average and lack of pop makes it difficult to consider him. In the major leagues, he has been atrocious at the plate.
The Mets can sacrifice one spot in the lineup if the rest of the team can hit. If it really does make a big difference with Syndergaard’s pitching performance, I would willingly put Nido behind the plate each time Thor takes the mound. Nido may improve offensively and a guaranteed start every fifth day will provide him with extra at-bats.
When a team gives a pitcher a personal catcher they are bending over backward for his and their own benefit. Is Syndergaard worth it?
Jacob deGrom had a lot of success last year with Devin Mesoraco catching most of his games. This won’t be the case in 2019, so, perhaps it’s time the Mets shift their focus on personal catchers and offer one to Syndergaard. Assuming they move on from Travis d’Arnaud next winter, shifting Nido into a backup role as Thor’s backstop on a regular basis may be one strategy to get the best from the Norse God.
Nido is still green and not a guy who anyone should expect to catch the bulk of games. He can carve out a niche, though. If let’s say, Syndergaard wins the NL Cy Young this year and he catches the majority of his games, the organization has to seriously consider moving forward with using him alongside Wilson Ramos indefinitely.
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Sure, Nido is a one-dimensional player. However, he can positively affect one of the team’s best players each time he’s in the lineup.