Astros: Max Stassi wins the backup catcher role to start 2018
Max Stassi will be the Astros backup catcher to start the season.
At the start of spring training, it seemed like a no-brainer that Max Stassi would be the backup catcher. The Astros front office indicated that they wanted Evan Gattis to be the primary DH option this year. This opened the door for another catcher to make the roster as the backup to Brian McCann. After a heavy workload, the Astros plan on resting McCann more in 2018.
Don’t worry Gattis fans. You will still see him catch this year. Gattis needs to be part of the game, so he doesn’t go stir crazy as the DH. Last season, Gattis’ at-bats decreased because of the DH rule if he needed to replace McCann because of injury.
Stassi got off to a fast start this spring. He hit .429 in February games with two homers and 5 RBIs. That was in the first four games of spring training. Since then, he has only had two hits in 28 at-bats. According to Brian McTaggart, Stassi will serve as the backup catcher. Stassi will get more starts as a catcher than Gattis, who will be the third catcher and primary DH.
Gattis will likely catch when the Astros want his bat in the lineup but want to give someone a day off from the field. You will see George Springer, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman get at-bats as the DH.
According to McTaggart, Stassi will catch more than Gattis will. McCann will start opening day in Arlington, but Stassi will start a game in the first series. The Astros have seen enough from Stassi this spring for him to beat out Tim Federowicz. They have especially liked his progress of throwing out runners. This is something that Gattis and McCann struggle with.
In Stassi’s minor league career, he has allowed 372 steals and thrown out only 138 runners. Stassi has developed a great rapport with the pitching staff and caught Justin Verlander several times this spring. This could be Stassi’s final chance with the rise of Garrett Stubbs through the system.
Next: Astros: Clearing up the Jose Bautista rumor
Federowicz will start the season in Triple-A. Stassi was known earlier in his career as an offensive catcher. He’s more of an all-around catcher now. Unless he impresses this year, he could be a career backup catcher. Federowicz may have had the better batting average this spring, but Stassi will get the first shot.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference and MLB.com***