One of the skills that made Carlos Ruiz so valuable to the Phillies, especially late in close games, was his consistency dropping and blocking to prevent wild pitches. Brad Lidge in particular, with that slider, would not have been as effective here without Ruiz behind the plate.
The Phillies’ current catcher — he’s pretty good at it, too.
As big a play as any in the Phillies’ tense 3-2 win Wednesday night was J.T. Realmuto’s snag of a Brandon Workman curveball in the dirt on a 2-2 count with runners on the corners and two outs in the ninth inning. It prevented the tying run from scoring and the winning run from moving up to second base. A couple of pitches later, the game was over.
(That play by Realmuto, made ever so casually, comes at the 1:19 mark of the video above.)
Workman, again, was all over the place, finding his way in and out of danger. For the second straight game, an excellent defensive play was needed for him to escape with the save. On Sunday, it was the play at the plate, the Roman Quinn-to Scott Kingery-to Andrew Knapp relay that made Tom Emanski shed a single tear.
Workman has put the first batter on base in all three of his appearances as a Phillie and in seven of 10 outings this season. He’s had 22 baserunners in 10 innings. All three of his outings as a Phillie have been shaky but he does deserve some credit for remaining unfazed and confident in his hook. He’s going to live and die with the pitch, that’s abundantly clear from only three innings of work here.
“Workman, when he was so great last year, he threw 71 innings and there were 29 hits but there were also 45 walks and 104 strikeouts,” said Phillies manager Joe Girardi after his 1,000th career win. “If you walk people, you have to strike people out, and he has that ability. That’s what gets him through innings.”
Workman punched out Eric Thames and Victor Robles to end the game, but Realmuto deserves at least a half-save for making that play on the second-to-last pitch.
It was an example of literally saving a run with defense. If that ball goes under Realmuto’s mitt, as it would many catchers, the game is tied and there is a runner on second. It was a game-saving play in a game the Phillies needed. It helped them to a series win ahead of Thursday’s finale against Max Scherzer. Beyond that, it warded off another deflating loss. It was their third straight win after five straight losses. It felt like a potential turning point.
This series against the Nationals has highlighted the overall value of Realmuto, not that anyone questions it these days. He can win games with his bat like he did Tuesday with a three-run homer in the Phillies’ 6-2 win. He can make a difference with his speed as the fastest baserunning catcher in the majors. And he affects games every night with his receiving and control of the running game.
Complete player. The kind you don’t let walk away at 29 years old.