Tonight might be the night we discover if Pablo Sandoval is going to become Zito's personal catcher. Bengie Molina says he's cool with it, and plus, Molina caught twelve innings yesterday, so it makes sense that he'd get a rest.
My thoughts? I'd say Sandoval has a 39% chance of catching tonight. Here is what others think:
Rotoworld's Pouliot: "Pablo Sandoval catches and Barry Zito pitches well; it's a trend that dates back to the second half of last season. Still, the Giants don't want to take Bengie Molina out of the lineup and they've never tried Molina at first base. I'd be surprised if Sandoval is behind the plate for Zito's start Monday."
As many of you know, Sandoval is already catcher eligible in Yahoo leagues, so this information is aimed at leagues that need five or more catcher appearances this year to become eligible (which is the case in Sandbox leagues and probably some others). Sandoval has one catcher appearance so far this year.
UPDATE 4/27, mid-game (11:24pm): Yes! Sandoval catches Zito. And, perhaps more importantly, Zito is pitching well (4 innings, zero runs) so far, which makes it more likely for this trend to continue.
UPDATE 4/28, late-game (12:32am): A solid Zito start. He pitched six scoreless innings with 92 pitches, but he was left in the game for the seventh and gave up a walk, a homer, and a single. He was pulled for Merkin Valdez, who promptly allowed the inherited runner to score, plus a few more. So no win for Zito. But still, all in all Zito's start was MCE (more conclusive evidence) that he is better when Sandoval is his catcher.
I think we have our answer to the question posed in the title. For now.
The Morning After:
"I asked Manager Bruce Bochy how he weighs the benefit of having Pablo Sandoval working with Barry Zito against the negative of taking Molina, the club’s cleanup hitter, out of the lineup. Bochy insisted this is not a “personal catcher” scenario and he would have rested Molina anyway because he caught all 12 innings Sunday. Bochy did say there was a benefit to giving Sandoval his starts with the same pitcher, because it helps with familiarity."
"Once again, though Bochy didn't fully commit to naming Sandoval as Zito's personal catcher, the manager did say, "It makes it easier for the pitcher or the catcher if Bengie gets the same off-day each week." Bochy added that besides Zito, Sandoval would be most likely to catch Matt Cain or Jonathan Sanchez, while Molina has been charged with the responsibility of working with ace Tim Lincecum and fellow veteran Randy Johnson."