With a h/t to The Crawfish Boxes' Clack, we learn from Hardball Times that the Houston Astros' J.R. Towles is one of the worst catchers in the majors at framing pitches. We are talking about half a win per-season, so it is small beer, but still, if the only guys worse than you are Jason Kendall (retired?), Brandon Inge, who had 60 games at catcher in 2008, and two backup catchers I have never even heard of, you know you have issues.
Worst framing catchers
Mike Rabelo -7.73
Jason Kendall -7.65
Eliezer Alfonzo -7.18
Brandon Inge -6.55
J.R. Towles -6.19
Add this to Towles' offensive woes over the past month-and-a-half, the fact that he can't throw runners out; put it all together and you seriously have to wonder if Humberto Quintero's return might spell the end of another major league season for him.
Towles returned to the lineup in the series finale against the Rangers, and joins Hunter Pence in tonight's lineup to face James Shields and the Rays tonight in a dandy of a pitching matchup with Wandy Rodriguez toeing the rubber for the Astros.
More after the jump.
After a hot start to the season, Towles has an ugly .389 OPS over the last 28 games, and there is also the fact that he has caught just four base runners, and allowed 30 steals, including the rather unfortunate occasion where he allowed the Cubs' Tony Campana to swipe four bags in one game. I think this statistic reads even worse, when you consider that, of his 39 games, 16 of those have been catching either J.A. Happ or Wandy Rodriguez, lefties.
Considering he has looked unwilling to even attempt to throw out a runner in case the ball squirts away, I'm surprised teams have not just been running at will against him. I have been one of Towles' sternest defendants, but he is scuppering perhaps his last chance at making it in the bigs with Jason Castro temporarily out of the picture. Whether Carlos Corporan is doing well enough to stay on the roster when Quintero returns is something to keep an eye on.