It’s official; the Baltimore Orioles have lost catcher Matt Wieters for the rest of the season. Wieters, who has been out for over a month, underwent Tommy John surgery today and has begun his long, 9 month road to recovery.
The injury is one that would effect the Orioles in a major way any season, as Wieters is a premier catcher in the league, mainly on the defensive end. Wieters is potentially the best defensive catcher in the AL, and is right up alongside Cardinals’ star Yadier Molina as the top defensive catcher in the league.
Where Wieters has excelled behind the plate, he was slightly lacking when in the batter’s box. That was until this year. Wieters was hitting .308 in the 26 games he played in this season, with five homers and 18 RBI.
Not only would Matt fit in perfectly right behind the Orioles’ core of the lineup in the sixth spot, but there is a significant drop off from him to the catchers the O’s will now have to rely on.
The Orioles traded to get catcher Nick Hundley from the Padres a few weeks ago and Hundley has been what you could expect from a backup catcher. Unfortunately, both him and the team can’t afford for him to be a backup right now. Hundley will need to produce as a starter would for him to earn his spot as the regular catcher, which currently belongs to Caleb Joseph.
Joseph, a rookie, would likely still be in the minor leagues if not for the injury. Joseph is a defensive upgrade over both Hundley, and former backup Steve Clevenger. What Joseph is yet to show is his ability to hit the ball. Batting just .123 with four RBI, Joseph sits in the number eight or nine spot in the lineup daily. This is something that the Orioles cannot afford.
The Birds desperately need one of their catchers to start hitting so that they can sit in the seven or eight spot in the order, and be able to produce behind J.J. Hardy to keep innings going, instead of ending them quickly once getting to the bottom of the order.
Hopefully Wieters picks up right where he left off in 2015, as he had finally begun to look like the player the Orioles thought they got from Georgia Tech. Until then, Hundley and Joseph will have to split time the next 90+ games and will need to begin producing as a starting catcher would, both when hitting, and fielding.