First Pitch: The starting catcher is ...

March, 21, 2013
Francisco Cervelli and Chris StewartKim Klement/USA TODAY SportsFrancisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart will divvy up the Yankees' catching duties this season.
Well, the way I'm reading it, the Yankees won't really have a starting catcher. It seems to me that Joe Girardi won't have that classic catcher who starts six times a week, saving Sundays for the backup. Girardi has never really managed like that in the first place so I doubt with Stewvelli he is going to begin now.

What I believe he will do is have Chris Stewart assigned to three starters and Francisco Cervelli placed with two others. The numbers could be reversed with Cervelli getting the extra game, but I think Girardi really likes Stewart's thinking-man approach. I imagine that when Girardi is sitting in the dugout, he is calling the game right along with his catcher. You get the feeling Stewart doesn't make many mistakes with what fingers he puts down -- at least from Girardi's point of view.

As for offense, Girardi has made it very clear it is not his first criterion in choosing a catcher. Even with the Yankees' offense debilitated, Girardi hasn't changed his assessments. It probably doesn't matter either way since Stewart is hitting .219 in 32 at-bats, while Cervelli is at .200 in 30 at-bats.

I'm not entirely sure how Girardi will pick his combos. While Stewart worked very well with CC Sabathia in 2012, Cervelli has had success with the big man, too. For what it is worth, Sabathia's ERA with Cervelli (2.98) is actually slightly better than with Stewart (3.16). Cervelli has also caught Sabathia for twice as many innings (39 to 18). So Girardi could go either way on Opening Day.

Hiroki Kuroda has only thrown 21 1/3 innings to Stewart (1.69 ERA) and none to Cervelli. Andy Pettitte has a 3.17 ERA in 88 innings with Cervelli and has only been on the mound for 13 2/3 innings with Stewart (1.98). Phil Hughes owns a 6.30 ERA in 70 Cervelli innings and a 4.91 ERA in 22 Stewart innings. Ivan Nova has a 2.76 ERA in his 42 1/3 innings with Stewart and a 4.74 ERA in his 68 1/3 innings with Cervelli. David Phelps has never thrown to Cervelli in the majors, while in his rookie year, he had a 2.14 ERA in 21 innings with Stewart.

In the end, I don't think Girardi will have a true starting catcher. He may not even come out and designate whom Cervelli and Stewart will be matched with, but a pattern will likely emerge. So your starting catcher will likely depend on who is starting ... for the Yankees each day.

UP NOW: Derek Jeter may not be ready for Opening Day. Eduardo Nunez basically says, "I got this."

ON DECK: The Yankees are home Thursday night to face the Minnesota Twins. The game is on YES. More importantly, Wally Matthews will be on hand.

QUESTION: Do you trust Stewvelli behind the plate?
Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »



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Masahiro Tanaka
12 2.51 135 129
BAJ. Ellsbury .291
HRM. Teixeira 17
RBIM. Teixeira 48
RB. Gardner 58
OPSJ. Ellsbury .777
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135