As the injuries continue to pile up for the first place New York Mets, it is worth noting that the team is still missing an important piece to their solution in starting catcher James McCann, who is still on the injured list with a wrist injury.
McCann could return from the injured list in late June or early July, so it will be up to Tomas Nido and Patrick Mazeika to carry the load behind the plate.
We discussed in length last month about the reasons the Mets have missed McCann, but there is one development over the last couple of weeks that further demonstrates why the Mets need their top backstopper back sooner rather than later.
Mets starting pitcher Chris Bassitt has been a different pitcher since James McCann got hurt in early May.
Bassitt has quite a large arsenal of pitches for a typical major league pitcher. He has a sinker, a cutter, a slider, a four-seam fastball, a curveball, and a changeup, all in one. Bassitt utilizes each of those pitches as if he wants to paint the strike zone. So it takes an experienced catcher who is excellent in pitch framing to manage Bassitt’s workload. McCann has the best pitch frame rate among qualified National League catchers.
Three of Bassitt’s six pitches usually wind up in the lower half of the strike zone, and McCann’s pitch framing, which has been of high quality all season, is best in the zones where his putaway pitches are. And for someone who relies on getting strike calls in or around the corners of the strike zone, Bassitt is dearly missing his starting catcher. McCann's absence is a problem for Bassitt right now.
Bassitt’s first five starts this season had him paired up with McCann. In each of his five starts, he pitched at least six innings in under 100 pitches, and registered six strikeouts or more in each of them, pitching to a 2.61 ERA, and his opposition batted just .191 against him.
The last seven starts tell a different story with Nido and Mazeika behind the plate. He has pitched into the 7th inning just once in that period, and his opposition has had a batting average of .266. Additionally, his strikeout rate is down, his walk, hit, and home run rates are up, and his ERA in this span is 5.79. And he just had his shortest outing of the season, pitching just 3.1 innings while giving up 7 runs in a 13-2 loss to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday.
It is quite imperative that the Mets get McCann back soon so Bassitt can regain the confidence he needs to elevate the Mets pitching staff to the level he is capable of with a strong battery mate.