If you’re not familiar with the name Caleb Joseph, you’re not alone. The 28-year-old, drafted by the Orioles in the seventh round of the 2008 draft, made his major league debut on May 7 this season and has been playing regularly behind the dish since catcher Matt Wieters succumbed to a season-ending elbow injury.
On August 1, Joseph went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts against the Mariners, dropping his batting average to .199 and his OPS to .577. Since then, though, Joseph has caught fire. His second-inning two-run home run against Cardinals starter John Lackey today was his fifth home run in his last five games. As MLB.com’s David Wilson notes, Joseph has become the 15th catcher to homer in five consecutive games. Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco also accomplished the feat earlier this season, between June 20-25.
The record for home runs in consecutive games by a catcher is six, held by Walker Cooper, a catcher for the New York Giants in 1947. The overall record is eight consecutive games with a home run, accomplished by three players: Dale Long (1956), Don Mattingly (1987), and Ken Griffey, Jr. (1993).
Including today’s 2-for-4 performance, Joseph is now slashing .227/.287/.429 with eight home runs and 21 RBI in 175 plate appearances.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Indians and Padres are still discussing a potential trade for a starting pitcher, namely Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. Rosenthal adds that a deal isn’t close and is unlikely to occur before Opening Day. The Padres are balking at the Indians’ asking prices for the two starters.
The Padres could certainly use an ace at the top of the rotation. With the addition of Manny Machado, the lineup is looking decent, but beyond Joey Lucchesi, the starting pitching doesn’t inspire confidence.
Kluber, who turns 33 years old next month, has club options for the next two seasons at $13.5 million and $14 million with $1 million buyouts each. Last year, the right-hander finished third in AL Cy Young balloting, finishing 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA and a 222/34 K/BB ratio in 215 innings.
Bauer, 28, is earning $13 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration heading into 2020. Last year, Bauer went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA and a 221/57 K/BB ratio across 175 1/3 innings.
The Indians are the prohibitive favorites in the AL Central once again, but that has as much to do with the mediocrity of the rest of the division as the Indians’ commitment to competing. If the Indians were to trade either or both starters, that would be good news for the Twins, who are projected to be 15 games worse than the Indians but still finish in second place, according to PECOTA from Baseball Prospectus.