Phillies' catching depth is perilously thin with J.T. Realmuto banged-up again


The Phillies did not pack Rafael Marchan in bubble wrap for the train ride to Washington on Sunday night.

It would have been understandable if they had.

With 32 games left in the season, the team's catching depth is perilously thin.

Already nursing a sore right shoulder, J.T. Realmuto rolled his left ankle during an at-bat in the fifth inning Sunday and had to leave the game.

Manager Joe Girardi said Realmuto was "day to day" and more would be known about his condition Monday.

But even if Realmuto were to miss just one day, it could be a big thing for these Phillies. That's how thin and vulnerable they are at the catcher position.

The team has just three catchers on its 40-man roster and one of them, Andrew Knapp, is out for at least eight more days after testing positive for COVID-19.

Realmuto actually started at first base Sunday and the plan is to get him more time there down the stretch.

Marchan has started the last two games at catcher and the Phils have won both.

Even Luke Williams, the team's emergency catcher, is out. He went on the COVID-related injured list along with Knapp and Zach Eflin on Friday.

Had Marchan gone down in the late innings Sunday, infielder Nick Maton would have gone behind the plate, Girardi said. Either that or he would have gone to third base and Ronald Torreyes would have gone behind the plate.

If Realmuto checks out fine, the Phils will have two catchers Monday night in Washington.


But what if he's not OK?

Immediately after Sunday's game, Girardi said he was not sure what the team would do in that situation, but you can bet it will be a topic of conversation Sunday night and into Monday.

The Phillies have catching injuries in the minors, as well, as Rodolfo Duran and Edgar Cabral are both on the IL. Prospect Logan O'Hoppe was just promoted to Double A Reading. Tyler Heineman and Vito Friscia are both at Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Of the group, Heineman might make the most sense if the Phils need to bring a catcher to Washington. He started 15 games in the majors with Miami and San Francisco in 2019-20. In fact, he was the Giants' opening day catcher in 2020 after starter Buster Posey opted out. Heineman was released by St. Louis in July and signed by the Phillies a week later to provide organizational depth that might now be needed.

If the Phillies do bring up a catcher, they will have to add him to the 40-man roster. It all depends on how Realmuto checks out Monday.

Suddenly, Marchan, a 22-year-old rookie and veteran of 10 big-league starts, has become very important.