I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but Todd Jones and Mike Rabelo don’t really go together. If Jones is peanut butter, Rabelo is asparagus and if you look back at the game logs you see that Mike Rabelo has caught half of games where Jones has allowed runs. Luckily it seems that Jim Leyland has picked up on this, and has Ivan Rodriguez catch Jones in his last 13 appearances. A period where Jones has allowed a meager .490 OPS against.
On June 26th the Tigers were hosting the Rangers at the beginning of a lengthy homestand. Todd Jones entered the game in the 9th inning with the score tied at 6 after the Tigers scored 3 in the bottom of the 8th. After 2 quick outs Jones allowed a few baserunners and there seemed to be a conference between every single pitch with catcher Mike Rabelo. A triple and a single later the Tigers were down 3. After the game Jones admitted to missing a sign from Rabelo. He was supposed to step off the rubber, and instead gave up a hit. That was the last game that Rabelo has caught Jones.
And I’m pretty sure this isn’t a matter of coincidence. Twice Rabelo was the starting catcher, only to be replaced by Pudge at the end of the game for defensive purposes.
Looking back, Jones has allowed runs in 10 of his apperances and in 5 of those Mike Rabelo was the catcher. Jones has 5 blown saves, and Rabelo was manning the plate for 3 of them. Remember April 18th against the Royals? The Tigers take a 3-1 lead into the 9th inning. Jones walked 2 and allowed a double and a single tying the game.
Or what about May 28th against the Devil Rays? The Tigers have a 5-4 lead when Jones loads the bases on 2 hits and an intentional walk only to see Elijah Dukes single in the winning run on a chopper. Rabelo.
And who could forget the low point of the season (at least the low point before this week). The debacle on June 1st in Cleveland. Jones allowed 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th for a crushing 12-11 defeat. Rabelo.
In all, 12 of the 23 runs Jones has allowed have come with Rabelo behind the dish, which is disproportionately high for the backup catcher.
I don’t mean this as an indictment of Rabelo’s ability. His overall catchers ERA is 4.66 which is only slightly higher than Pudge’s 4.47. Given Rabelo’s limited playing time I’m not sure that is even a real difference. But for some reason, he and Jones just never seemed on the same page. They seemed to confer on a regular basis, and the Rangers game was just a manifestation of that. So if the game is close, and Rabelo is playing, you’ll probably continue to see Pudge get that 9th inning call.