New York Yankees: Will Clint Frazier and Gary Sanchez start tonight?

Andres Chavez
New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

The New York Yankees trounced the Cleveland Indians 12-3 on Tuesday’s night game, the first one of the best-of-three Wild Card series at Progressive Field. Brett Gardner, whose presence in the lineup over Clint Frazier was questioned by some fans and media members, answered with a 3-for-5 performance, with a double, a home run, two runs and three RBI.

Meanwhile, starting catcher Gary Sanchez took a seat in favor of Kyle Higashioka, who has the (unofficial) title as Gerrit Cole’s personal backstop. Higgy went 1-for-5 with a strikeout and an ugly throw to second base (well, to center field) but Cole produced a masterpiece, hurling seven innings of two-run ball and 13 punchouts.

Tonight, the second game of the series will be played at Progressive Field, also at 7:00 pm ET. Cole will obviously not be on the mound, which means that Sanchez should get the start over Higashioka. Sanchez, despite his struggles this season (.147/.253/.365) is clearly the better offensive performer, and Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone said that the situation would be fluid.

What will the Yankees do?

The starter in left field for tonight’s game is more of an unknown at this point. Gardner had a bad performance at the dish (.223/.354/.392) but he picked things up near the end of the season and, well, had a helluva night yesterday.

Frazier, however, had a breakthrough of sorts in 2020. He improved his defensive game and adopted a more patient approach that led to a .267/.394/.511 line, but scuffled down the stretch: in his last 39 plate appearances, the Red Thunder had a .156 batting average, whereas Gardner hit .394 in his last 42 appearances.

Clint Frazier, arguably one of the New York Yankees’ breakout stars in the 2020 season, had a .050/.240/.050 line with a .176 wOBA and a 4 wRC+ (!) However, those struggles don’t take away what he achieved this year: the team’s fourth-highest fWAR mark among position players, with 1.3, in only 39 games.

Let’s see what Boone and the Yankees do tonight, but Clint Frazier and Gary Sanchez are also deserving of playing time.