While much talk has been centered around pitcher Dallas Keuchel’s postseason fate (Stone was noncommittal about it but did say he has one more year on his contract to consider). Another area of interest he addressed is that of the backup catcher to starter Yasmani Grandal. Do you go with Zack Collins or Seby Zavala?
One might think the easy answer is to go with Collins because he hits lefty and a situation might arise where manager Tony LaRussa may need to call for a bat from that side of the plate. However, while Stone said Collins has hit the ball hard over the last few weeks, it might be his defense that gives him the nod.
Stone was pleased by what he has seen from Collins behind the plate lately, particularly in his effort to get after balls in the dirt. When Collins was sent down to the minors earlier this year, Zavala did play well but had his issues being a wall for his pitchers. In 31 games started, Zavala has eight passed balls compared to Collins’ three in 55 games.
"“What I remember of Seby this year, ” Stone said, “is him missing the ball and looking at his glove. Well, if it’s the glove’s problem, get a new glove. But you can’t allow the ball to get by you.”"
As for the offense, neither guy is exactly lighting things up but Collins’s slash line of .211/.329/.340 with four homers and 26 runs batted in is better than Zavala’s .183/.240/.376 along with five homers and 15 RBI.
One other advantage Collins has is his plate discipline, having walked 33 times in 229 plate appearances compared to Zavala’s free-swinging approach netting six walks in 104 trips to the plate.
If it’s playoff experience you’re looking for as a possible determining factor, that’s not going to do much good. Collins did appear in last season’s Wild Card Series against the A’s where he struck out in his only plate appearance while Zavala has never been on a playoff team.
The Chicago White Sox may end up going with Zack Collins as the playoff backup catcher.
Collins should be the guy to be second on the depth chart at catcher for the playoffs and anything positive he can give in the way of needed at-bats or defense would be a bonus. The good thing about this team is there is enough firepower from the likes of Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, and Yasmani Grandal to cover for any offensive deficiencies that may come from needing to insert Collins into the lineup.