Minnesota Twins: Mitch Garver has chance to prove he can start in Jason Castro’s absence
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins will be without Jason Castro for four to six weeks giving Mitch Garver a chance to prove he can be a major league catcher.
The Minnesota Twins were served another blow from the injury front when they learned Jason Castro‘s knee injury is worse than first thought. At first, the belief was that Castro would be able to rest and that he would return to action relatively quickly. He will now reportedly undergo surgery to repair his torn meniscus by removing a piece of it and as a result will miss four to six weeks of action.
It can be expected that Mitch Garver would continue to get a majority of the reps at catcher over that time span. Garver has already seized that opportunity to have increased playing time and has came up big for the Twins twice over the series with the Los Angeles Angels. He now has the opportunity to further prove that he is ready to be a full-time major league catcher.
Garver may not be producing offensively quite to the level he did in the minor leagues, but he is proving to be an asset with his bat. So far this season Garver is slashing .250/.311/.411 with a .711 OPS. He has also hit two home runs, three doubles, and has collected six RBIs. That is a clear upgrade over Castro’s .143/.257/.238 who has just not been able to put it together offensively.
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Castro isn’t in Minnesota for his offense though. The whole reason Castro was signed was for his defense and his pitch framing abilities. That is where Garver will need to show improvement over the next several weeks. Defense is something Garver has already proven to be able to do better than many expected out of him as a prospect.
While both catchers have let a number of pitches get past them and at some inopportune moments, Castro is still ranking as a plus defender. He has a defensive runs saved number of plus one. He is also in the top 5 when it comes to pitch framing according to statcorner.com and is gaining his pitcher 2 calls in his favor per game.
Meanwhile, Garver is going in the opposite direction, sitting at a negative three when it comes to defensive runs saved. When it comes to pitch framing, he is almost sitting the exact opposite of Castro. Garver ranks in the bottom five of the league in pitch framing and is at about a negative two calls a game.
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These next several weeks will be a great opportunity for Garver to prove that he has the ability to put the body of work together to be a good major league catcher. Will he steal a lot of time from Castro in 2018? Probably not, and for sure not if he can’t continue to improve the defensive side of his game.