10/01/2002 11:00 pm ET
MLBeat: Catcher rotation set
Moeller, Miller and Barajas to start in NLDS
By Rich Draper / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- There is often a unique synergy, a symbiosis, between a pitcher and catcher, but Arizona manager Bob Brenly is taking it to the extreme in the postseason with each starting pitcher having his own special catching valet.
Chad Moeller is catching Randy Johnson on Tuesday night in Game 1.
Damian Miller is catching Curt Schilling on Thursday afternoon in Game 2.
Rod Barajas is catching Miguel Batista on Saturday in Game 3.
An ex-catcher himself, Brenly always prided himself and other men behind the plate as stalwarts, ironmen, able to play one of the most physically demanding position day in, day out.
It's unique, this triumvirate of hurlers and "hurlees." But it works.
Miller was the veteran, and he made his first All-Star team, but he injured his back soon after the Midsummer Classic and the Diamondbacks called up Moeller from Triple-A Tucson.
"A relationship developed between Randy and Chad," said Brenly, "and Randy had an incredible 17-game stretch (the Big Unit going 12-2). Rod hooked up with Miguel all year because Miguel is extremely tough to catch -- he has a lot of movement on his pitches. They seemed suited. Schilling has always preferred to throw to Damian over the past two years.
"With the postseason heavy on pitching and defense, we wanted to give our pitchers as much comfort level as we could."
Moeller helped his cause by hitting .432 (16-for-27) in his last 16 games, including 4-for-4 in the regular-season finale with two homers and six RBIs.
Middle relievers ready: Relief pitcher Mike Koplove, voted the D-Backs' Rookie of the Year by his teammates, had a sensational season, and, combined with set-up man Mike Fetters, rescued the bullpen from its early troubles.
Then came the blitz. Since Sept. 21, Koplove saw his opponents' average jump from .168 to .213, allowing 15 hits and 12 runs in 6 1/3 innings over that span.
Like, what happened? Fetters' lost his finesse, too, in his final three outings, giving up 14 hits and 13 runs, nine earned. Middle relief turned from savior to substandard.
But the 26-year-old side-slinging Koplove says he's over his problems and will be OK facing St. Louis in the NLDS.
"It's just a bad stretch we've both been going through, and it happened when the team was struggling, but we'll be OK," said the reliever, who finished with a 6-1 mark and 3.36 ERA. "It'll be fun and we'll have a lot of adrenaline going. Those last few days won't have any effect."
Fetters, the 37-year-old acquired from Pittsburgh on July 6, said, "you go through spells like this. I sent that message to Koppy. The most exciting part is yet to come -- the playoffs -- so don't hang your head. And I'm throwing the ball good. Don't count me out."
Kim is 'fightin' mad: Reliever Byung-Hyun Kim, who said he "got bitten" by the Yankees in the World Series last year -- the right-hander blew two potential Arizona victories -- told Korean reporters he will "knock out" the Yanks if the D-Backs meet them this postseason. Kim put up his dukes while making that promise.
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.