Jeff Mathis left the game yesterday, after being clipped by a foul tip. It didn’t seem too bad at the time - he actually stayed in at the time, after being examined by the Diamondbacks’ trainer. But he was replaced by Chris Iannetta later in the game, and it now appears the problem was much more serious than previously thought. Nick Piecoro reports Mathis “has an avulsion fracture in his right hand -- i.e., the ligament came off the bone, pulling fragments of bone with it,” which doesn’t sounds like much fun, to put it mildly. Piecoro adds as follows:
Mathis wants to see hand specialist Dr. Don Sheridan before speculating on a recovery time, but it's obviously not good. He's pretty bummed.— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) August 22, 2017
Rey Fuentes has been promoted back up from Reno to take Mathis’s spot on the roster. Fuentes batted .240/.276/.350 over 41 games from mid-May through the All-Star break. This likely means Chris Iannetta becomes the everyday catcher, with Chris Herrmann acting as backup. However, rosters will shortly be expanding, on September 1. It would not surprise me if we see John Ryan Murphy, the other available catcher on the 40-man roster, activated at that point, so we can continue to have three, for late-inning substitution.
Mathis was an offensive black-hole during the early going; he has been hitting a good deal better of late, though is still only at a line of .213/.276/.322. But his main value has been, as expected, defensively and in particular his skill at pitch framing. Mathis has delivered what we thought there, ranking among the top 10 in the majors this year, and has worked particularly with Zack Greinke, catching all 25 of Greinke’s starts this season. The good news is, Iannetta is just a few spots further back in the pitch framing standings, and hopefully this change of battery-mate will not disrupt Greinke’s bounceback season too much.
The team also made another bullpen move, with Jake Barrett returning to the roster. To make room, last night’s winning pitcher, Jimmie Sherfy, has been returned to the Reno Aces after also making his major-league debut on Sunday in Minnesota. Sherfy retired all six batters faced, so I’m sure we’ll also see him when rosters expand next week. Barrett has made 16 appearances for the Diamondbacks, going 1-0 with a 4.02 ERA and an 18:7 K:BB ratio over 15.2 innings of work.