The relationship between a pitcher and catcher is a special one. The catcher needs to know everything about a pitcher including what he prefers to throw in certain counts.
Although Clayton Kershaw announced that he prefers A.J. Ellis over any other catcher, he has gotten to know the new arrival, Yasmani Grandal. Grandal was acquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the trade that sent Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres.
In an interview with MLB Network Radio, Kershaw expressed his appreciation for the work that his new catcher has put in:
Yeah, he’s a worker, he really wants to be good at catching. He’s in there doing early work every day with the guys. Not so much the physical part but the mental part is what you want. As a pitcher all you can ask for is that you care.”
While the mental part of the game is needed, the physical side is just as important. In Grandal’s three-year career, the catcher has made just 11 errors in 1,300 innings, for a fielding percentage of .991.
While this is a full five points lower than Ellis, Grandal can frame pitches better than almost anyone else in the MLB. He was ranked as the best pitch-framer in the league from 2011-2013, giving his pitchers an extra 53.21 strikes, according to Brooks Baseball
Kershaw also discussed what he and the other pitchers can do to get to know the new catcher:
Some growing pains at first, you want to learn and get to know him, and get out there and get to catch all your starting pitchers at first, which I’m sure he wants. He’s getting a lot better at that and I’m getting a lot better at getting to know him, so it’s good.”
Team chemistry will be the most important factor for the Dodgers this season. There is no question that they have the talent to win the National League West again, but it is up to the players to bring everything together and mesh as a team.
Dodgers 2015 Spring Training – Yasmani Grandal