Let’s preface this by saying that we mean no disrespect to current starter Jose Trevino, who has rightfully earned his place as the starting catcher to begin the year after proving he could handle those duties at the end of 2020.
Trevino, renowned more for his glove than his bat, has made considerable strides with the latter, and that’s been evident early on this season with a .769 OPS and five hits in 13 at-bats so far.
However, we’ve noticed a troubling trend with Trevino as the starting backstop early on in 2021.
In the games that the 28-year-old catcher has started behind the plate, Texas Rangers pitching has surrendered far more earned runs when compared to Jonah Heim’s starts.
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For example, Trevino was the catcher in both of the Rangers’ horrifically bad pitching performances in the first two games in Kansas City, where the staff surrendered 14 and 11 runs, respectively, in back-to-back games.
On the contrary, Heim started Sunday’s series finale in Kansas City, and the oft-maligned Jordan Lyles twirled a quality start, followed by a lockdown bullpen performance in a win.
This trend has continued into the first home series of 2021 against the Blue Jays (so far), where Trevino caught Mike Foltynewicz’s debut on Monday night, a game in which Folty struck out seven hitters but coughed up four earned runs in four innings.
The Rangers bullpen would proceed to allow just one earned run after Folty’s premature exit, but would lose the game.
Meanwhile, Heim caught Dane Dunning’s Rangers debut on Tuesday night and you might be able to infer what happened.
Dunning tossed five strong innings of one-run ball with six strikeouts.
It’s still early in the season, but Jonah Heim is making a case to be the Texas Rangers’ starting catcher.
Now, Taylor Hearn and Matt Bush did give up three earned runs combined as the Rangers held on to beat Toronto 7-4 for their second win.
Perhaps we’re reading too much into this, or maybe it’s simply coincidence, but early on, Jonah Heim has demonstrated an impressive ability to call a game and control a pitching staff.
Heim was one of the prized pieces Texas received in return for longtime shortstop Elvis Andrus, who was dealt to Oakland.
The 25-year-old, like Trevino, is better-known for his defense, which kind of furthers this point: if Heim is just as adept defensively and has had better performances from his pitchers than Trevino has had, there’s a credible argument to be made here in favor of Heim’s candidacy to be the starting catcher.
Ultimately, it’s still too early to declare Heim to be better than Trevino outright, but this is nonetheless an evolving storyline to monitor this season…