Sport Braves catcher Tyler Flowers looking forward to post-knuckleball offensive outlook

01:46  14 february  2018
01:46  14 february  2018 Source:   FOXSports

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The Braves announced on Monday that they’ve exercised their MM club option on catcher Tyler Flowers and declined their MM club option over R.A. Dickey in favor of a 0K buyout. Looking forward to 2018, Coppolella believes the Braves will get younger.

Atlanta Braves catcher Tyler Flowers will miss four to six weeks with a broken left hand, Today's Knuckleball reported Tuesday. Flowers was hurt when Miami Marlins pitcher A.J. Ramos struck him on the hand with a pitch earlier this month.

  Braves catcher Tyler Flowers looking forward to post-knuckleball offensive outlook © Aaron Doster

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.Tyler Flowers’ days of embracing the mental challenge of catching the knuckleball are over.

With the Atlanta Braves declining former teammate R.A. Dickey’s club option this offseason, the franchise’s returning catching platoon of Flowers and Kurt Suzuki can set their collective sights on more traditional duties behind the plate in 2018 — which could provide in relief on multiple fronts.

“It was a fun challenge,” Flowers said of Dickey’s signature pitch. “As comfortable as you could be catching a knuckleball, I felt like I got more comfortable with it. But once you got really confident and then one gets by you, and then another one, it’s like, ‘Man, I can’t do this anymore.’ It was a real head game.”

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Post to Facebook. Posted ! Catcher Tyler Flowers , who has been around for only one of Atlanta's three straight losing seasons, will spend the next six weeks learning how to handle the veteran pitchers, and Dickey's knuckleball in particular. You can't really look at that big picture at this point. We haven't really been on the field yet."

Can Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki manage to give the Braves average production behind the dish? The logic was potentially that Suzuki’s pitch-blocking would come in handy for handling R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball , but aside from this, they’re both right-handed catchers without rosy offensive

The physical act of catching the unpredictable pitch and preventing baseballs from rolling to the backstop is the obvious hurdle, but Flowers was quick to mention the secondary drawback: His offensive production. Even in the middle of a career year at the plate for both veteran catchers — Atlanta’s platoon led the majors with 5.1 wins above replacement and 121 weighted runs created plus — Flowers noticed his hitting numbers dip on days when he caught Dickey.

“It really kind of messes with your timing and everything,” said Flowers, who posted a .378 on-base percentage with 12 home runs last season. “It would be interesting if one of you guys looked into that: the correlation between catching a knuckleball and offensive success, because there’s definitely a correlation. I looked into it some with some other guys. It’s definitely not made up.

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Atlanta Braves catcher Tyler Flowers decided to throw in two hits along with his mistake-free night catching a knuckleball pitcher for the first time. Bonus: His team gets the win.

Tyler Flowers , Atlanta Braves catcher , has been diagnosed with a broken left hand and according to Braves beat writer Mark Bowman, he will be placed on the disabled list and be out at least six weeks.

“It’s a common thing: Russell Martin, Salty (Jarrod Saltalamacchia), (Jason) Varitek when he caught (Tim) Wakefield for a bit.”

Flowers, 32, took over primary catching duties for Dickey in early June. In 100 1/3 innings catching the knuckleball, his pitcher’s numbers improved dramatically, thanks in part to Flowers’ pitch-framing ability, but the additional obstacle at the plate undercut his career year. Here are Flowers’ offensive splits on days he caught the knuckleball and days he did not:

Catching R.A. Dickey: .218/.307/.345, 29.0 strikeout rate
Not catching R.A. Dickey: .294/.393/.466, 20.1 strikeout rate

In other words, Tyler Flowers hit like Buster Posey in the 308 plate appearances that fell on days he did not catch the knuckleball.

Following this trajectory, Flowers’ offensive production dipped 15 percentage points (wRC+) in the season’s second half. Suzuki’s offensive production after stepping away from Dickey’s primary catching duties jumped from 108 first-half wRC+ to 148 second-half wRC+. And Flowers is correct: Russell Martin’s offensive numbers dropped off dramatically when he paired with Dickey in Toronto. The pitch plays mind games with hitters and catchers alike.

This serves as yet another reason why teams employing a knuckleball pitcher typically assign his catching duties to a (light-hitting) specialist, though with the way both Flowers and Suzuki hit last season it likely just as important for manager Brian Snitker to find the best fit for Dickey. That will not be an issue during the platoon’s encore.

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