WASHINGTON -- The only things remaining for J.T. Realmuto are seeing whether he wins his first Gold Glove and a second consecutive National League Silver Slugger Award.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Wednesday afternoon that Realmuto “most likely” will have a meniscus cleanup in his right knee Friday in Philadelphia, finishing his season. Realmuto injured his knee running to first base Sunday in Cleveland. He felt popping in the knee as he squatted behind home plate for a couple innings before leaving the game.
“We don’t have any long-term concerns about this for J.T.,” Kapler said. “It’s a similar [procedure] to what Jake [Arrieta] had. He was back in two weeks, back throwing and back on the mound.”
Realmuto batted .275 with 36 doubles, three triples, 25 home runs, 83 RBIs and an .820 OPS. He set career highs in runs (92), doubles, home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage (.493). He joined Johnny Bench and Jorge Posada as the only catchers in baseball history to have 90 runs, 35 doubles and 25 homers in a season.
Defensively, Realmuto might have been even better. He has started 130 games behind the plate, 11 more than any other catcher in baseball. He has caught 76 2/3 innings more than anybody. He has thrown out 37 baserunners, 15 more than anybody. He is eighth in framing runs (10.4), according to Baseball Prospectus. He has the best pop time (1.88 seconds) and second-strongest arm (average throw 88.4 mph), according to Statcast.
“This was as good a defensive season as I’ve seen,” Kapler said. “And again, luckily, I played with Pudge Rodriguez.”
Realmuto’s 5.6 WAR is seventh among position players in the National League. It is no wonder the Phillies hope to sign Realmuto to a multiyear contract extension in the offseason.
“There’s actually some reason for optimism for J.T. to get even better,” Kapler said. “I think the area that we might see the most improvement going forward is the offensive production. I think he is a very, very minor adjustment away from getting a lot of those crisp ground balls that we see hit to the left side becoming line drives. … If he could just elevate the ball a tiny bit more -- and this is not an analytics launch angle take on this, this is an eyeball take on it -- if he could get the ball elevated just a little bit more, I think he drives in more runs, I think he hits more doubles, I think he hits more home runs, I think he gets on base more -- the whole nine.”
Andrew Knapp is expected to catch the most of the team’s remaining five games.
Nola on Sunday?
Kapler said the Phillies have not decided whether right-hander Aaron Nola will pitch in the season finale Sunday. The Phillies set up the rotation so Nola could pitch Game 162, just in case they needed to win to clinch a postseason berth. The Phillies have been eliminated, so they can just hold Nola back and begin his recovery for 2020.
Nola made a career-high 34 starts and pitched 202 1/3 innings.