After another solid performance last night in Arizona, Michael McKenry has consistently shown he deserves to be the starting catcher for the Colorado Rockies. Sure, there was that whole steal of home thing in the game yesterday, but on the whole, McKenry has steadily outperformed incumbent Wilin Rosario since his call-up and should start the rest of the season.
The numbers between the two backstops are actually pretty similar. In games started by Rosario this year, the Rockies record is 28-47, while the record is 9-15 in McKenry's starts. They are similar as defensive catchers with Rosario having the bigger arm, resulting in more thrown out would-be base stealers.
But for every tit for Rosario, there's a tat for McKenry. He has called better games for the much beleaguered Rockies pitching staff. And while these numbers are similar as well, McKenry has the advantage. When being caught by McKenry, the staff's ERA is 4.61 with a 1.96 strikeout-to-walk ratio and allows .86 home runs per game. Those same categories for Wilin are 5.17, 1.90 and 1.22 respectively.
With the numbers so close, there has to be a deciding factor in order to deem Michael McKenry the starter, and that factor is offensive. McKenry is hitting more than 100 points better than Rosario on the season — .363 to .255. Wilin has five more home runs and 24 more RBI in 217 more plate appearances than Mike, but with an OPS of .986, the HR and RBI would be in his favor, too, if he has as much playing time.
The only reason to not start McKenry is the hopes that Wilin Rosario can still develop into an everyday catcher. Being an everyday catcher means being a valuable contributor with the stick AND a solid defensive backstop AND a successful game caller. So far in his career, Wilin has demonstrated he is capable with the bat, and has improved his defense every year he's been in the bigs, it's the last part that remains a huge question mark. While the pitchers have to take responsibility as well, a great game manager can guide pitchers through games when they have their stuff or when it's missing. With the collective starting rotation having an ERA over five and a burned out bullpen, it doesn't seem Wilin can do that.
The Rockies sure aren't sold that he can be an everyday catcher, which is why they flirted so heavily with Carlos Ruiz this past offseason. Rosario is best suited as an American League backup catcher, where he can DH. With a winter that needs to be full of change, this should be where Rosario ends up.
Michael McKenry, at 30 years old next season, won't blow you away with the potential he has, but he can be a serviceable 2 that can mentor a young catcher the Rox bring in via trade or call-up. And if he's hitting .363 next year, just ride with Mike.
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