Are the Yankees making a mistake with their catcher situation in Game 4?

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

The New York Yankees are playing for survival tonight. They will face the Tampa Bay Rays at Petco Park, in San Diego, in Game 4 of the American League Division Series. The Bombers are down 2-1 in the best-of-five affair, and if they don’t win tonight, they will return to New York empty-handed.

In the win-or-go-home affair, Yankees manager Aaron Boone will once again start Kyle Higashioka over Gary Sanchez at catcher. What started out as a “personal catcher” situation, given that ace Gerrit Cole feels more comfortable with Higgy, is now becoming a trend, and despite Boone recently saying that the situation would be a “day-to-day” thing, it seems like he is sticking with inferior offensive option.

Are the New York Yankees making a mistake by not starting Gary Sanchez regularly at the catcher position? Some will say that the Kraken has struggled this season, and he has. After all, he hit .147/.253/.365 in the regular season with a 69 wRC+ and Higashioka hit .250/.250/.521 with a 102 wRC+.

The Yankees’ catching controversy

However, it’s unfair to dismiss four seasons of being one of the most dominant offensive backstops in the game (.236/.320/.502, .346 wOBA, 117 wRC+ career line) and judge Sanchez for 49 games, not to mention that Higgy’s performance came in only 16 games. That’s just not enough sample to determine he is the best option to be in the Yankees’ lineup over Sanchez.

And while Higashioka does offer good defense behind the plate, the difference is not so big that it can justify leaving Sanchez on the bench for three of the four games of the ALDS.

If your ace express a strong preference to throwing to the backup catcher, it is understandable to let it happen, which has been the case when Gerrit Cole takes the mound. However, the Yankees haven’t even let Sanchez get into any kind of groove by not giving him enough plate appearances and essentially making him a backup option.

Here is the full Game 4 lineup:

  • 2B DJ LeMahieu
  • RF Aaron Judge
  • CF Aaron Hicks
  • DH Giancarlo Stanton
  • 1B Luke Voit
  • LF Brett Gardner
  • SS Gleyber Torres
  • 3B Gio Urshela
  • C Kyle Higashioka

P Jordan Montgomery