The Cubs plan to pair right-hander Yu Darvish with backup catcher Victor Caratini this season.
“I’m not mad,” starting catcher Willson Contreras said. “We are teammates. We want to do really good, and we’re here to win. That’s the most important thing.”
In a 60-game season packed into less than 10 weeks, efficiency becomes especially important. Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy called Contreras and Caratini “two of the best catchers in the game” and made clear that the Cubs trust all their pitchers and catchers to game-plan together.
“But it does help to speed that process up when the guys that are catching them are really familiar, on the same page,” Hottovy said. “And we know that Willy and Jon (Lester) have worked great together over the last few years, and what Vic did with Darvish that second half of the season last year too, catching the majority of those games, can’t go unnoticed.”
Last season, Contreras caught eight of Darvish’s 31 starts, including his first five of the season. But it was a slow start for the right-hander, who went 1-3 to start the year.
Caratini first caught Darvish on May 20, and they remained paired for much of the rest of the season. Darvish posted a 2.76 ERA after the All-Star break, with Caratini as his primary catcher.
“Darvish did really well with Victor last year,” Contreras said.
Contreras has been paired with Lester since David Ross retired from playing after the 2016 season.