While the season has unquestionably been a massive disappointment for the New York Mets, one undeniable has been the emergence of their rookie catcher, Francisco Álvarez. In Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Cubs, made a great play, only one that doesn’t show up in the box scores.
Pitchers struggled in adapting to the new pitch clock earlier but since the first part of the season, they seem to have gotten into a groove. But it’s still an issue sometimes. With the Mets clinging to a 4-3 lead, Chicago’s Ian Happ came up with the bases loaded and two outs. At one point, it seemed inevitable that pitcher Phil Bickford would be charged with a violation. But thanks to a heads-up move from Álvarez, that didn’t happen.
Seeing the second on the clock rolling down, put his arm up, making a fist but moving his fingers. Then, as the clock ticked down from two to one, Álvarez popped up out of his crouch and sprinted toward Bickford for a mound visit.
Francisco Álvarez is paying attention, man. pic.twitter.com/Iyf8dU3uTQ
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) August 10, 2023
Now, using a mound visit to prevent a violation is something catchers have done all season. But the catcher literally sprinting to the mound to make sure that everyone in the stadium knows what’s going on? That’s a new one.
And baseball fans had a strong reaction to Álvarez’s play.
What a stud catcher https://t.co/mZoBSZhVBz
— Robert Stock (@RobertStock6) August 10, 2023
There are 31 year old veterans in this league that wouldn’t even be as heads up. Alvarez is a 21 year old rookie. https://t.co/H5zsu4jzmx
— Dan (@IrishFF44) August 10, 2023
— Subway To Shea Podcast (@SubwayToShea) August 10, 2023
I love catchers!
There's a reason why so many of them make great managers.
I was a middle infielder, so I sat front row for so many great plays and calls, plus the Rocket throws down to second
— Dr. Ismael Gallo DPT, MBA (@flowsdoc) August 10, 2023
How big was the play? It’s hard to say. Bickford was ahead in the count 1-2. So, even if Álvarez hadn’t gone to the mound, Bickford still would have been in the driver’s seat with the count 2-2.
On the other hand, Bickford getting a chance to reset could have helped. Furthermore, while Bickford still would have been in the driver’s seat at 2-2, the difference between 1-2 and 2-2 is not insignificant, especially with the bases loaded in a one-run game. Bickford’s next pitch was a high fastball, out of the strike zone, which Happ swung and missed, ending the game. Who knows if Bickford would have tried for a corner in a 2-2 count, knowing a ball would bring a full count and force Bickford to come in.
We can’t say that Álvarez’s heads-up play saved the game. But we can absolutely say that it didn’t hurt the cause.
[Codify on Twitter]