The other day I wrote about Michael McKenry, noting his strong numbers in a small sample size this year, and asking when he would be for real. In the article I noted that McKenry’s numbers this year should give him more playing time, which would allow the Pirates to get a better idea of how legit his numbers are. With Rod Barajas holding a $3.5 M option for 2013, and McKenry hitting like a starting catcher, the Pirates could use the final two months to make a decision on who will be the starter next year.
McKenry started again tonight, and didn’t disappoint, hitting his 11th homer of the year. He went 2-for-4 on the night, and now has a .285 average and a .944 OPS. But what about his playing time?
I took a look at his recent games, just to see if there were any trends for when McKenry would play. There were. It’s a small sample size, but in the last ten games, McKenry has been treated like the starting catcher.
The Pirates used McKenry on July 25th, 27th, 29th, 30th, August 1st, and today. In the last ten games, McKenry has started six games, while Rod Barajas has started four. Two of the games started by Barajas were with A.J. Burnett on the mound. The other two were with Wandy Rodriguez. McKenry has been catching Jeff Karstens (twice), James McDonald (twice), Erik Bedard, and Kevin Correia.
If that trend continues, McKenry will be the primary catcher for the remainder of the year. It’s not a bad plan. McKenry should be getting the bulk of the playing time as long as he’s hitting. Even if he fades a bit from these numbers, he’s still doing better than Barajas, who heated up earlier in the summer, but has since slumped in July. Barajas does have a good relationship with A.J. Burnett, so it’s good to see those two remaining together.
It will be interesting to see if this continues. With A.J. Burnett on the mound tomorrow, I’d expect Barajas to catch. But a big test to this theory will come this week, with Erik Bedard going Monday, and Jeff Karstens going Tuesday. I wouldn’t be surprised if McKenry catches both games, based on the matchups we’ve seen over the last two weeks.
Links and Notes
**The Pirates lost 5-4 to the Reds.
**Pirates Notebook: McDonald Bounces Back in Loss; Correia to Make Spot Start.
**Prospect Watch: Taillon Has Another Good Start; Dickerson and Hanson Homer.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.