Monday's game showed why the Reds continue to carry 3 catchers on the roster

Cincinnati Reds catcher Curt Casali
Cincinnati Reds catcher Curt Casali / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

It's been a talking point for some time now; why are the Cincinnati Reds continuing to carry three catchers on the active roster?

It's a fair question. The initial plan was to split about 40-percent of Tyler Stephenson's playing time between first base and acting as the team's designated hitter, while spending the remaining 60-percent behind the dish.

But, as they oftentimes do, plans change. Stephenson hasn't donned a first baseman's mitt since April, and has seen more of 50/50 split between catching the Cincinnati pitching staff and acting as the Reds DH.

Reds catcher Luke Maile helped calm the storm during the 6th inning.

There's been plenty of debate among the Cincinnati Reds fanbase about which catcher the team should cut in order to free up playing time for another young prospect. But on Monday night, both Luke Maile and Curt Casali came up huge and showed why David Bell continues to carry three backstops on the active roster.

Maile was 1-for-2 on Monday night with a walk and a run scored. The 32-year-old has seen a downturn in his production at the plate of late, but his work with the pitching staff was never more evident than it was following a gaffe by the Cincinnati defense.

The Reds completely botched an opportunity to pick-off Kansas City Royals outfielder Drew Waters in the sixth inning. A routine game of pickle turned in by Jonathan India, Spencer Steer, and Alex Young saw Waters inexplicably wind up at second base.

Instead of getting out of the inning, Young had to head back to the bump and get that final out that should've been taken care of already. Maile, being the savvy veteran he is, immediately went out to the mound to remind Young to concentrate on the batter who already had two strikes. Young responded by striking out Darion Blanco.

Reds catcher Curt Casali helped will Ricky Karcher to his 1st save.

In the 10th inning, Reds manager David Bell turned to Ricky Karcher to get the save in what was his major league debut. Alexis Diaz, Lucas Sims, and Ian Gibaut were all unavailable, so the ball landed in the hands of the rookie. Curt Casali was now catching after Luke Maile was lifted in the ninth inning for a pinch runner.

Karcher was wildly erratic, landing just nine of 21 pitches for strikes. Two of those came on bunt attempts from Michael Massey. But Casali was able to work with the rookie hurler, and eventually the Reds avoided disaster and got a fly out to left-center field to end the game and walk away with the 5-4 win.

The Cincinnati Reds are going to have some difficult roster decisions to make in the coming weeks. Nick Senzel, Wil Myers, Jake Fraley, and Joey Votto should all be returning to the lineup before the end of the month. Christian Encarnacion-Strand has done his best to earn a call-up to the big leagues.

How much longer will the Reds carry 3 catchers?

One of the easiest ways to open up a roster spot is to cut ties with either Luke Maile or Curt Casali. Neither is going to intimidate an opposing pitcher, but the duo has shown time and time again that there's more to being a major league ball player than hitting.

Maile and Casali do all the little things to help their team win. The pair also provide a necessary veteran presence on an extremely young team. That type of leadership is invaluable.

You have to squint pretty hard to see a way in which the Cincinnati Reds, when fully healthy, continue to maintain three catchers on the active roster while still giving consistent playing time to the young prospects. But on Monday night, Reds Country saw why the team continues to roll with three backstops.

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