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Why doesn't Evan Gattis catch for Julio Teheran? | Sports & Recreation

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Why doesn't Evan Gattis catch for Julio Teheran?

Atlanta Braves rookie Julio Teheran blazed through Spring Training, turning heads, putting his name onto Rookie of the Year watch lists, and -- of course -- earning the fifth spot in the Atlanta Braves starting rotation.

With fans buzzing about why Evan Gattis was playing first base instead of catching yesterday, I pulled the box scores for each of Teheran's starts in February and March, and I threw the relevant numbers into a spreadsheet to see if who was catching that day made any difference.  (See the stats in the image below.)

Disclaimer:  Take this with a grain of salt if for no other reason than Spring Training doesn't count.

The first thing that jumped out at me was how awesome his overall numbers were this Spring: only 3 runs allowed on 7 hits, 3 walks in 26 innings!  (The 35 strikeouts are also impressive, but I don't care how he gets opposing batters out if he keeps them from running the bases and crossing home plate.)

What jumped out at me next was what I saw in the "H" column:  Teheran pitched the equivalent of an 11-inning no-hitter with Gattis behind the plate (granted, that was over two separate starts).

When I brought this up to Braves fans on Twitter, the two responses that came in most fervently were, "Catcher's ERA is meaningless!" and "a rookie-rookie battery is bad!"  (Baseball dictionary note: the "battery" is a team's pitcher and catcher.)  A third, calmer, response simply explained that Teheran was brilliant no matter who was catching.  And that's true.  It could just be a combination of skill and coincidence that Teheran allowed no hits while Gattis was catching him this Spring.

But as any pitcher will tell you, every catcher works differently.  There's pitch selection, framing pitches, keeping still, knowing when and when not to visit the mound, and so much more that goes into catching.  I was never much of a pitcher or catcher, so I'll end it with this:

Maybe it is just a big coincidence, but zero hits in 11 innings makes this a coincidence worth testing a little more.

(Unrelated side note:  Let's keep the balks down, Julio!)

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