Orioles demote Joseph, call up catcher Susac from Triple-A Norfolk

May 17, 2018 | Luke Jones

Beginning an 11-game road trip with the third-worst record in baseball, the Orioles have made a notable change to their 25-man roster.

Veteran catcher Caleb Joseph was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk and catcher Andrew Susac was recalled from the Tides ahead of Thursday’s series opener in Boston. Joseph, 31, has struggled mightily at the plate this season, batting just .182 with 24 strikeouts in 80 plate appearances. The 28-year-old Susac was batting .296 with three home runs and 14 runs batted in for the Tides.

Joseph and rookie Chance Sisco each started seven of Baltimore’s first 14 games in May in what had developed into a timeshare after the former began 2018 as the primary catcher. Susac was in Thursday’s lineup with Red Sox left-hander David Price taking the hill, but Sisco figures to continue seeing regular playing time against right-handed starting pitchers.

Known for providing above-average pitch framing and defense in the past, Joseph has declined in those departments in 2018. He ranks just 61st in Baseball Prospectus’ pitch-framing metrics after finishing no worse than 11th in any of the previous four seasons. Joseph has also had issues blocking pitches and has already committed four errors after having just three all last year.

Those underwhelming defensive numbers made it easier for the Orioles to send Joseph to the minors since he’s been so poor at the plate. He posted a respectable .700 on-base plus slugging percentage last year, but he infamously failed to collect a single RBI in 141 plate appearances in 2016, another season in which he was demoted to the minors.

In 274 major league plate appearances, Susac has batted .232 with seven home runs and a .695 OPS.