WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Davey Martinez hasn’t decided yet who his starting catcher will be on opening day. The manager has said all spring he intends to get both Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki regular playing time and have them split the job, and the opening day assignment is no different.
Both catchers have worked with Max Scherzer over the last month. And both will catch the three-time Cy Young Award winner as the season plays out. It’s just a question of who’s behind the plate for the first game of the season.
“Both of these guys are pretty good,” Martinez said. “And they’ve both caught Scherzer really well this spring. And he likes them both. I haven’t leaned one way or the other right now. We’ll wait and see what happens.”
As of now, Martinez plans to use only one personal catcher for a starting pitcher: Suzuki with Aníbal Sánchez, who were an effective battery last season in Atlanta.
“They work really well together,” the manager said. “Other than that, they’re both going to catch, have to catch Scherzer, Stras, Corbin. I want to look at - because Suzuki was in this league - what he does against starters. Because when he hits a guy fairly well, he hits them. That’s something I definitely want to pay attention to.”
So how does Suzuki hit the top of the Mets rotation? Not so well. He’s 1-for-12 in his career against opening day starter Jacob deGrom. He’s 0-for-6 against game two starter Noah Syndergaard. And he’s 1-for-2 against game three starter Zack Wheeler. (Gomes has never faced the first two right-handers; he’s also 1-for-2 against Wheeler.)
“It’s going to be based on information,” Martinez said. “And right now the way things are playing out, there’s nothing set in stone. They’re both going to get opportunities to play. I haven’t really decided yet who’s going to catch Scherzer, but they’re both going to play.”
Note: The Nationals have the first of two split-squad dates on their spring training schedule Monday. Corbin will start the home game against the Marlins in West Palm Beach. Joe Ross, who has only pitched out of the bullpen so far this month, will start the road game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie.
Update: Just as they did two days ago to Steven Matz in Port St. Lucie, the Nationals hammered a Mets left-hander in the first inning. They scored six runs off Hector Santiago, racking up seven consecutive base hits at one point. Juan Soto blasted a two-run homer deep to right-center, nearly reaching the scoreboard that sits beyond the grassy berm here. Wilmer Difo cleared the bases with a three-run double down the third base line. Adrián Sanchez added an RBI single to complete the rally, which ended with Santiago yanked after retiring only two of the 10 batters he faced.
Update II: Stephen Strasburg cruised through his first three-plus innings today, retiring 10 of the first 11 batters he faced. But the Mets have figured him out since. Robinson Cano’s one-out single in the fourth ended the no-hit bid, then Michael Conforto followed with a two-run homer to right. Three consecutive singles in the fifth brought home another run and trimmed the Nats’ lead to 6-3.
Update III: The Mets are creeping their way back into the game. Pete Alonso took Henderson Alvarez III deep to right for a two-run homer in the top of the seventh, trimming the lead to 7-5.