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Catching remains question mark for Mets

Catcher Kevin Plawecki of the Mets throws against

Catcher Kevin Plawecki of the Mets throws against the Philadelphia Phillies during game two of a doubleheader at Citi Field on July 9. Credit: Getty Images / Mike Stobe

BALTIMORE — Catcher is among the Mets’ areas of greatest potential improvement heading into 2019, when they hope to rebound from another lost season into playoff contention. But for now, it’s a huge question mark.

Devin Mesoraco will be a free agent after this season. Travis d’Arnaud had Tommy John surgery in April, and it’s no guarantee the Mets will tender him a contract this winter. Tomas Nido, whom manager Mickey Callaway expects to return to the majors in September, projects for now as a backup at best.

Those are all reasons Kevin Plawecki has been receiving a majority of the playing time lately — 10 of 16 starts since July 29 — as the Mets gauge whether he can be their No. 1. He has struggled offensively in that time and entered Wednesday night with a .217/.323/.357 slash line, though he did hit a grand slam in the Mets' 16-5 victory over the Orioles. The Mets, however, say he has made gains in his backstop duties.

“He’s a young player that’s continuing to learn both sides of the ball,” Callaway said. “His preparation has definitely been a plus moving forward this year. He’s been learning a lot from Mesoraco. Walk in to the clubhouse today and he’s sitting at the computer preparing to call a game. He’s done a really good job.”

Throwing in particular has been an area of focus (and struggle) for Plawecki. His pop time — the time it takes to throw to second on a stolen base attempt — is 2.07 seconds, slower than the average of 2.01 seconds, according to MLB’s Statcast data. But Callaway said Plawecki has improved compared with the start of the season.

Catching coach Glenn Sherlock said Plawecki has worked on mechanical changes that allow him to get the most out of his arm strength.

“You really see it in the way he’s coming through the ball, and that’s what we’re looking at the most,” Callaway said. “I think before he was staying back and wasn’t using his body to throw. And now we’re really seeing him gain ground and getting the ball more on a line to second.”

Extra bases

The Mets flipped their initial rotation order for Thursday’s doubleheader in Philadelphia and will now go with Corey Oswalt in the first game, Steven Matz in the second. That will allow them to activate Matz (flexor pronator strain) from the disabled list for one game instead of both, giving them an extra pitcher for the opener. Callaway said Matz will be limited to about 80 pitches … The first game Thursday (4:05 p.m. first pitch) will be broadcast on Facebook, not SNY or any other TV channel . . . David Wright and Jay Bruce played for high Class A St. Lucie on Wednesday. Underscoring just how long Wright has been out: The Mets initially acquired Bruce more than two years ago, but this was the first time they played together in a regular-season game. Wright went 0-for-3 with a walk and Bruce had two singles in four at-bats. 

New York Sports