Managers Brandon Hyde of the Baltimore Orioles and Gabe Kapler of the San Francisco Giants will have a tough decision to make with their catchers when the clubs complete a three-game series Sunday afternoon in the Bay Area.
The Orioles and Giants have split the first two games of the set. After the Orioles held on for a 3-2 victory in Friday's opener, the Giants rode the pitching of Alex Cobb to a get-even, 4-0 triumph in the rematch.
Right-handers Tyler Wells (3-2, 3.29 ERA) of the Orioles and Anthony DeSclafani (4-4, 3.48) of the Giants are the scheduled starters on Sunday.
But who will be their batterymates in the quick turnaround from a night contest to a day game will be a decision Hyde and Kapler have to make as they weigh short- and long-term benefits.
Orioles star Adley Rutschman has just a single to show for eight plate appearances in full-game efforts behind the plate in the first two contests of the series. His average dropped from .289 to .282 in the process.
Rutschman has been an ironman behind the plate for Baltimore, having started 54 of its 58 games and coming on as a substitute on three of the other four occasions.
With the Orioles having had a travel day Thursday and with another day off Monday, it's possible the Giants will see the Baltimore star for a third consecutive game.
Wells clearly would love that.
"He always takes the time to learn his pitchers," he said. "He builds relationships with them. That's been a huge benefit to having him behind the plate."
Explained Rutschman, who made his major-league debut just a little more than a year ago in May 2022: "You ask questions. Seek to understand, rather than trying to push your own agenda on guys. Just trying to build relationships with guys."
Wells is coming off a hard-luck, 5-0 loss to the Cleveland Guardians on Monday, a game in which he allowed just one run and four hits in six innings with no walks and seven strikeouts. The third-year major-leaguer has never pitched against San Francisco.
The Giants made Patrick Bailey the 13th overall pick out of North Carolina State in 2020, one year after Rutschman, a standout at Oregon State, went No. 1 to the Orioles.
But just like his counterpart, Bailey needed parts of just three seasons in the minors before joining the big-league club. For him, it happened May 19, almost exactly a year after Rutschman's May 21, 2022, debut.
Like his counterpart, Bailey has just one hit in two starts in this series. He is batting .304 with two homers and 12 RBIs in his first 13 games in the majors.
Like the Orioles, the Giants don't play Monday, increasing the chances of seeing Bailey complete the series hat trick.
Giants ace Logan Webb also had praise for Bailey, who is poised to follow Buster Posey as the next great Giants catcher.
"It's getting to the point where he knows exactly what I'm trying to do," Webb said after Friday's start. "We talk about it in between innings, we talk about it before the game. He's earning the trust of all our pitchers right now, and I trust him 100 percent."
DeSclafani snapped a three-game losing streak when he went seven innings, allowing three runs, in a 14-4 home win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday. The career-long National Leaguer has never faced the Orioles.
--Field Level Media