By Jared Lankes
Pirates ace Gerrit Cole was caught mainly by Chris Stewart for much of the 2015 season, and it produced great results as Cole had his best season by far. However, they ran into a problem in the wildcard game when Cole was the obvious pitcher of choice for the one game. This gave the Pirates a decision of Cervelli or Stewart. They went with Cervelli and Cole ended up struggling. This led all the fans wondering what if Stewart had been the catcher that night (Answer: Arrieta still would’ve won).
Now that Cervelli will be the Bucco backstop through 2019, the team has been forced to evaluate whether they want Stewart and Cole to be an all the time tandem. So far this season, it has been an overwhelming no. Cervelli has been catching Cole more often than not this season, and it has worked out fantastically. Cole had troubles at the beginning of the year after not having much spring training, but has ironed out the kinks it seems. He has been the Gerrit of old lately.
So it seems that Stewart will not be the personal catcher of Cole, and in hindsight I think that choice is a solid one. It’s tough on an organization when you have to have a personal catcher with a pitcher. Take Jon Lester and David Ross for example. When the Cubs signed Lester, they HAD to have Ross with him, wasting a roster spot on a guy they wouldn’t have wanted otherwise. Also, Ross is retiring at the end of the year. What will Jon Lester do then? Will he start to suck because he knows no other catcher in baseball? We will see. That’s the danger of the personal catcher, and it seems the Pirates would like to avoid that with an ace pitcher.
The Pirates trying to pair their starting catcher with their ace is something that should be embraced, not ridiculed. It’s a tandem that makes sense considering they are both big parts of the organization going forward. It gets the team prepared for things down the road instead of having to make the tough choice like they had to just a season ago.