The relationship between pitcher and catcher is arguably the most important in baseball. A pair that connects in just the right way will reap rewards that can lead to the most thrilling moments in the game.
Several backstops changed teams this offseason, leading to many new batteries forming and old ones dissolving. It’ll be interesting to see if Dallas Keuchel can reform his bond with Brian McCann now that they both play for the Braves. Until then, they aren’t on this list.
Here are five of the most iconic duos in the game.
Aaron Nola, J.T. Realmuto – Phillies
Nola’s been red-hot lately after his season started slowly, as he and Realmuto have found their groove together.
Since June 21, Nola has a 0.61 ERA over 29 2/3 innings. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning in his final start before the All-Star Game. Although one of Nola’s four outings featured Andrew Knapp behind the dish, Realmuto has been the constant presence during the ace’s resurgence.
Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey – Giants
Madison Bumgarner pitching to Buster Posey has been one of MLB’s constants. Both players debuted in San Francisco in 2009 and quickly became fixtures across three World Series championship teams. Bumgarner may be on the verge of being traded, which would end one of the most timeless duos of this era.
Posey was catching in that fateful Game 7 against the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 World Series when Bumgarner allowed just two baserunners in a five-inning save in relief of Tim Hudson and Jeremy Affeldt.
Also, a tip of the hat to St. Louis Cardinals duo Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, who first hooked up on the diamond in 2006.
Charlie Morton, Mike Zunino – Rays
Morton – a 35-year-old veteran – had the best two seasons of his career with the Houston Astros before signing a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays this offseason. All he’s done is get even better.
Zunino has been right there with him. Also a new acquisition, Zunino has caught the bulk of Morton’s top-notch starts, including his 12-strikeout affair against the Baltimore Orioles on July 2 and his dominant outing against the Oakland Athletics on June 10. Morton’s also struggled when Zunino hasn’t played. Three of the four occasions in which he’s allowed three or more earned runs this season came with Zunino on the bench.
Chris Paddack, Austin Hedges – Padres
Paddack, one of baseball’s most exciting rookie pitchers, just happens to pitch to Austin Hedges, the best defensive catcher in the game, according to FanGraphs’ defensive metric. Hedges called the shots behind the plate when Paddack took the New York Mets out behind the woodshed and struck out a season-high 11 batters.
Lucas Giolito, James McCann – White Sox
Giolito was the worst qualified pitcher in baseball last season; he’s morphed into one of the best in 2019. If you ask him, McCann’s presence in Chicago hasn’t been coincidental. The young right-hander credits the veteran backstop with helping him reach his first All-Star Game with an 11-3 record and 3.15 ERA.