Title: Blue Jays backup catcher Luke Maile’s defence is excellent. Is that enough?
Date: May 31, 2017
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Blue Jays’ catcher Luke Maile, his excellent defense, and whether that defense is enough to keep his job secure given his limitations on offense.
There is a first time for everything. There is not always a second. On Saturday, Marco Estrada took the hill at Rogers Centre and committed a first. Against Shin-Soo Choo of the Texas Rangers, Estrada received the sign from Luke Maile: Change-up.
“I don’t shake,” Estrada said. “But I stood up there and I kind of stared in, like, is this a joke? It’s the first pitch of the game.”
Estrada did something he has yet to do this season. He shook off Maile.
“I feel like he’s really smart,” said Russell Martin of his understudy. “I don’t think anybody calls the game the same way, but I think he has a purpose with every sign he puts down. There’s a reason behind it, and that’s probably the most important thing.”
The reason behind this sign? Choo was 1-for-12 with six strikeouts in his career against Estrada entering Saturday’s game. Maile picked up on something as Choo stepped into the batter’s box, and felt he was looking to swing.
Estrada remained unsure, and it’s easy to understand why. Through Sunday’s games, starting pitchers had thrown a change-up as the first pitch of the game on only 19 occasions, per Baseball Savant. Maile was asking Estrada to do something pitchers do barely one per cent of the time, and something even an elite change-up artist was unsure of.