When a team sends a position player to the mound to pitch, it is usually a sign that things aren't going very well for it. That was indeed the case Sunday afternoon when the Mets sent backup catcher Kevin Plawecki to the mound with no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning during their 23-5 loss to the Nationals.
The Mets bullpen had put in a long day of work after starter Noah Syndergaard left with an injury in the second inning. Down 19-5 in the bottom of the seventh, Terry Collins likely no longer saw reason to waste pitches from actual bullpen pitchers. Plawecki, speaking to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo after the game, recognized why he was being called on. "They [the pitching staff] are a little bit tired," Plawecki said. "So if I can go out and eat two innings in a game like today, where it just kind of got out of hand a little bit, I'm happy to do it."
So, on came Plawecki, who had not pitched since he was 14. The early returns were positive, if not entirely encouraging. On 10 pitches, the backup catcher induced three fly-ball outs -- two of which landed just in front of the wall -- for a 1-2-3 inning.
Kevin Plawecki sets down three consecutive Nationals on 10 pitches. Unfortunately, there were no radar gun readings. #Mets- Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) April 30, 2017
Plawecki's performance hit a bit of a snag in the eighth inning however. Before recording an out, he gave up four runs on three home runs.
Statcast called that a 74-mph knuckleball to Adam Lind. Who honestly knows at this point. Nationals 22, Mets 5.- Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) April 30, 2017
He settled down a bit after that barrage, retiring the next three batters via two fly balls and a grounder. If you only read the beginning and the end of the book, Plawecki's foray into pitching looked pretty good. It's immensely difficult to be successful when thrown into a situation for which you are neither trained nor prepared. That's where Plawecki found himself Sunday afternoon.
He wasn't discouraged by his outing though. "I threw a lot of strikes," Plawecki said. "I was happy about that. I used the whole ballpark in the first inning and got out of it, and then in the second inning, I left a couple up."