There is no doubt catcher A.J. Pierzynski has overachieved a bit in the first two months of the season, but his recent slump suggests the time is now right to make a change at the position.
Pierzynski was 0-3 on Friday night in San Francisco. His season batting average is now down to .255, while his on base percentage has dipped to .299. But his struggles in May prove what he is – an aging backup catcher that does not need to be in the starting lineup.
Pierzynski has hit only .131 in May with no home runs and three runs batted in. He has just eight hits in 61 at bats, with only three extra base hits. Pierzynski has not gotten a hit in his last four games (0-14) and has just one hit since May 20. He has just four hits since May 12.
When the season began, the belief was that rookie Christian Bethancourt would be the everyday catcher. Then Bethancourt got off to a rough start (.135 average in April), and at the same time Pierzynski hit .422 in April with three home runs and 14 RBI.
Bethancourt has been a bit more effective in May, hitting .229 in his limited playing time. Half of Bethancourt’s eight hits have been doubles, one more than Pierzynski has in almost twice the amount of plate appearances this month.
The Braves need to see what Bethancourt can do to determine if he is, in fact, the long-term option at the catcher’s position. Therefore, with Pierzynski now struggling and showing his age a bit, now is the time for the manager to make the change and make Bethancourt the everyday catcher.
Pierzynski can still be the catcher for Shelby Miller, as the two played together last year in St. Louis an obviously have good chemistry. But the other starters need to have Bethancourt behind the plate.
Bethancourt’s season numbers are still bad, as he has a .181 batting average with only six runs batted in. But what can he do with regular playing time? Now is the time to find out.
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Braves need to start Christian Bethancourt
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