The injury bug has bitten the Astros once again. Another veteran leader takes the hit in a trip to the disabled list.
Entering Tuesday, the Astros are in the middle of a three-game set with the Yankees in the New York. Unfortunately, the team will be without a key contributor from last season’s success in Brian McCann for a while.
The age-34 catcher has had a bit of a rough go as of late following a solid start in 2018. In 131 plate appearances, McCann has posted a .219/.313/.351 batting line with four home runs and a 89 wRC+. The sore right knee now makes this a start to forget for the veteran catcher.
To take his place on the active roster, the Astros have called up Tim Federowicz from the Fresno Grizzlies. In 113 plate appearances for Houston’s Triple-A affiliate, the age-30 catcher has a 159 wRC+ with a ..37/.407/.584 batting line. This also includes five home runs and 18 RBI on the season for Federowicz.
So, how does this impact the Astros on a day-to-day basis?
In light of this development, the Astros are most likely to insert Max Stassi as the primary catcher. Federowicz will serve as the backup with Evan Gattis available in emergency situations. While this situation is not ideal as McCann is still a valuable catcher, Stassi should provide more consistency with the bat. In 89 plate appearances, Stassi has posted a 149 wRC+ with four home runs. Out of all catchers with at least 80 plate appearances, the age-27 catcher is currently the eighth-best in baseball with a 1.0 fWAR.
The key test for Stassi is how his production holds up with additional exposure. While he has started the 2018 season on a strong note, the adjustments he makes will tell the tale. But the bat will be secondary to his work as a catcher and how he handles the pitching staff. Also, it is important to see how Stassi handles the workload. Being a catcher entails much more than any other position in baseball and it is a tough position physically.
All in all, the Astros should be in capable hands with Stassi. He has proven his worth early this season. The hope is that his improvement as a major league catcher carries over in McCann’s absence.
**Statistics and information courtesy of FanGraphs**