Chicago Cubs: Victor Caratini is quietly becoming a viable bench piece

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(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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As we know, last week was hard to watch for Chicago Cubs fans. But it wasn’t for the lack of offense or the contributions of Victor Caratini.

The Chicago Cubs have scored 10 runs in five of their first 10 games. The offense is clicking on all cylinders right now, and after a stress-free 10-0 over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the home opener, it’s encouraging to see the Cubs play to their capabilities.

The catching duo of Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini are making a case for best catching duo in baseball with their hot starts at the plate.

While we knew Contreras was due for a bounce-back season after a disappointing 2018 campaign, there was never high expectations for Caratini. I’m not sure many fans had faith in Caratini as the back up to Contreras.

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And for a good reason. Caratini was a -0.2 fWAR player in 2018. He compiled only 42 hits in 200 plate appearances. As a part-time player, the expectations were low, but Caratini did very little to help the Cubs succeed in 2018.

So far in 2019, Caratini is scorching hot at the plate. After 10 games, the backstop is slugging .909. It’s a very small sample size, but he’s batting .545 in 14 plate appearances.

He highlights the Cubs 14-8 victory last Saturday going 3-for-3 with a home run, two singles and two walks. I know this Cubs offense is hitting well all across the lineup right now, but Caratini provides more depth if he can consistently be a threat at the plate on days Contreras rests.

It’s early, meaning Contreras will likely get the majority of the starts at catcher, but the dog days of July and August will soon come, and the Cubs could use him more not just at catcher but even at first base if Joe Maddon wants to give Anthony Rizzo an off day.

It will be interesting to see how Caratini’s season plays out because if he doesn’t perform well enough, it would not be shocking to see him at Triple-A Iowa with Ian Happ and Carl Edwards Jr. Don’t bank on Caratini slugging over .900 all season but showing plate discipline and being a hard out for pitchers is realistically what the Cubs would like from him offensively.

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He’s off to a fantastic start, and that’s good for the Chicago Cubs catching tandem. Contreras has put together an encouraging first 10 games, too. He’s slashing .308/.455/.731 to start the year. The Cubs have two more with Pittsburgh then an interleague weekend series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. None considered contenders, allowing the Cubs to reach .500 or beyond by this time next week.

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