The injury that landed Travis d’Arnaud on the 10-day injured list yesterday appears much worse than originally expected. Per David O’Brien of the Athletic (via Twitter), further testing remains on the docket, but the Braves know enough to move d’Arnaud to the 60-day injured list today, per the team. In addition, Alex Jackson, who replaced d’Arnaud in yesterday’s game, has also landed on the injured list with a strained left hamstring.
Just like that, the Braves have undergone a complete line change at the catching position. Along with William Contreras, the Braves selected the contract of Jeff Mathis. The veteran defensive specialist joined Atlanta on a minor league contract at the end of March. It is not hyperbole to label the 38-year-old Mathis a defensive savant behind the plate. His defensive wizardry has propped up a 16-year career despite a paltry .194/.253/.300 batting line across 3,006 plate appearances.
Interestingly, the Braves also have Tyler Flowers lurking within the organization. Flowers took on a strategic role with the Braves this season helping to integrate analytics into in-game preparation for the Braves’ catchers. While it’s largely assumed that the 35-year-old’s playing career is done, both Flowers and the Braves left open the possibility that he could return to active duty this season. Certainly, the ranks are thinning in Atlanta, and speculatively speaking, they must be considering whether it might be time to give serious consideration to a Flowers return.
For now, however, it seems Contreras will get the bulk of the playing time in Atlanta. The 22-year-old went 4-for-10 in a cup-of-coffee last season. Fangraphs had him as the sixth-ranked prospect in Atlanta’s system prior to this season. He is the younger brother of Cubs’ standout Willson Contreras.