It has been a frustrating two seasons for Matt Wieters, there’s no denying that. A four-time All-Star in Baltimore, he hasn’t come close to duplicating that kind of performance since coming to the Nationals. And he’ll depart as a free agent this winter, unsure what the market will be for a 32-year-old catcher with diminishing numbers.
Which isn’t to say this has been a complete disappointment for Wieters, either. He may not have stats that turn any heads, but he has been front-and-center for some standout performances by the guys pitching to him, most notably Max Scherzer.
Which is why Wieters can take some personal satisfaction out of moments like the one that took place Tuesday night on South Capitol Street, when Scherzer became only the sixth pitcher since 1990 to record 300 strikeouts in a season.
“It’s cool,” Wieters said. “This is obviously a team sport first. You want to be able to make the playoffs. You want to be able to win the World Series. That’s everyone in here’s own goal. But it’s still cool to look back at all the personal goals and all the things guys reach ... it’s neat when you look back on it.”
Wieters has been behind the plate for 42 of Scherzer’s starts the last two seasons, and the ace right-hander owns a 2.64 ERA and 12.2 strikeouts-per-nine-innings when paired up with the veteran.
Scherzer routinely praises Wieters’ abilities, from his game-calling to pitch-sequencing to a little thing that might not be noticed by many but is hugely important to the pitcher.
“I think the thing that he’s most proud of is being able to catch foul tips,” Scherzer said. “That’s the one thing that he does so well, more than any other catcher in the game. There is no metric for that, and he’s amazing at catching foul tips. Those little foul tips just add to collecting strikeouts, so ... he does a wonderful job behind the plate, and he deserves a lot of credit for this.”
Wieters has found something of an offenseive groove here down the stretch. He went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI in Tuesday’s win. Since August 1, he’s batting .275 with a .350 on-base percentage, .792 OPS, five homers and 20 RBIs.
His end-of-season numbers, of course, still will look weak compared to the first half of his career. And he’ll depart Washington disappointed he wasn’t able to consistently perform better for this team and help it enjoy more success.
But that doesn’t mean he can’t still look back fondly on these two seasons, especially after nights like Tuesday when he gets to be a part of something special.
“This game’s been around for a long time, and you’re seeing records go down,” Wieters said. “It’s always something you can look back on, and it’s neat to be a part of history.”