Sports

James McCann a big factor to Mets rotation’s early success

CHICAGO — James McCann takes it personally.

From Jacob deGrom right on down the line, the Mets have received dominant starting pitching to begin the season, a fact in which the team’s new catcher has taken a certain level of satisfaction.

The Mets entered play Tuesday at Wrigley Field with a 2.27 ERA from the starting rotation — which ranked third in the major leagues.

“I take a lot of pride in that,” McCann said before the Mets opened a three-game series against the Cubs. “I tell my pitchers when they have good games, I have good games. When they have bad games, I have bad games. It hurts me as much on the inside when a pitcher has a rough outing as much as it hurts them. Their ERA is my ERA and I take a lot of pride in that.”

The most recent gem had occurred Sunday when Marcus Stroman allowed one run over eight innings to beat the Rockies. Two of the top five ERAs in the majors belonged to Mets pitchers as Tuesday’s play began: Jacob deGrom (0.45) and Stroman (0.90).

James McCann
James McCann
AP

But Taijuan Walker and David Peterson had also provided the Mets with strong performances.

“I feel really good about my relationship with all of them — the way we have been able to work together so far has been great,” said McCann, who arrived in December on a four-year contract worth $40.6 million. “The communication has been great, and honestly that speaks to the type of people we have in the clubhouse. It’s been a fairly seamless transition as far as the communication and being able to talk to each other and learn from each other. It’s been a group effort.”

The Mets didn’t have such a presence behind the plate in Wilson Ramos, whose 2021 option was declined after a disappointing season, both offensively and defensively. Ramos has since landed with the Tigers, for whom he’s blasted six homers in the first 14 games. McCann is still looking to get on track offensively — he carried a .258/.303/.355 slash line with one homer into Tuesday — but on the list of lineup underachievers names such as Michael Conforto, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil take precedence at this point.

McCann’s big arm behind the plate has helped. Overall he had thrown out 3 of 8 (37.5 percent) of runners attempting to steal against him this season, entering play. That included Trevor Story at second base to conclude Sunday’s game in Colorado.

A walk-off throw-out? McCann says he’ll take it over a walk-off homer.

“I can honestly say, I don’t know if I have seen a walk-off throw out,” McCann said. “You see walk-off homers regularly, but I guess I have never seen that happen. Being a part of that, big moment, good hitter at the plate, one-run game to end a game like that, it was pretty special.

“I don’t keep up with the percentage. I take care of what I can control. How am I throwing the ball, how is my exchange, how is my footwork and all that type stuff. I know at the end of the season the numbers will be what they are supposed to be if I take care of the process, and that is what I really focus on is the process.”

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