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The fourth-place National League East Braves are in the midst of a losing streak, multiple actually. Not only have the Atlanta Braves lost their last four games (three coming in the sweep at the hands of the Toronto/Dunedin Blue Jays), but they’ve now lost both big league catchers.
During Game Two of the series against the Blue Jays, starting catcher Travis d’Arnaud suffered a hand injury while applying a tag. He would be removed from the game after he was in obvious pain while catching warmup pitches. After the game it was announced that he would be further evaluated back in Atlanta, later he was placed on the 60-day Injured List. Also after the game, it was announced that backup catcher Alex Jackson would be placed on the 10-day Injured List.
The 60-day IL announcement was expected when Manager Brian Snitker classified Travis’ injury as “not good”, not usually what a manger would say for a few-day/10-day injury.
The two injuries left the Braves without a catcher, unless you count the emergency catcher, Pablo Sandoval. So the Braves called young William Contreras up for immediate action.
Contreras was the subject of much discussion when Opening Day rosters were revealed. Most fans expected him to open the season with the MLB Braves, but the organization said they didn’t consider him a backup catcher and wanted him to get every day consistent playing time. It’s no secret that Contreras & Langeliers are the catchers of the future in Atlanta. Contreras’ future is just starting sooner due to unfortunate circumstances.
But the Braves couldn’t just call up one catcher, so they purchased the contract of 16-year veteran Jeff Mathis. Mathis is widely regarded an elite defensive catcher by teammates, former teammates, & coaches alike. His veteran experience is also key to helping young Contreras in such a short-notice high-expectation role.