Yankees to rely on both Sánchez, Higgy

Catchers to be 'day-to-day' call in playoffs; Torres ambassador

September 25th, 2020

The Yankees hoped that was back on track when he blasted a game-tying home run over the Green Monster this past weekend at Fenway Park. That deep drive may have been yet another false start in the catcher’s frustrating season.

Sánchez came off the bench to barrel a drive in the eighth inning on Thursday, making a bid for what would have been his second pinch-hit grand slam of the season. Instead, it dropped into center fielder Randal Grichuk’s glove near the wall, the Bombers’ last gasp in a 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays at Sahlen Field.

With Sánchez hitless in his last 13 at-bats, manager Aaron Boone said that he is planning on making the Yankees’ starting catcher a “day-to-day” call between Sánchez and during the postseason.

“Performance matters, matchups matter and pairing guys matters,” Boone said. “I think both will probably play an important role for us if we’re to go deep in these playoffs.”

Sánchez’s .142 batting average (21-for-148) was the lowest of any Major Leaguer with 100 or more at-bats. Sánchez’s 61 strikeouts are a significant issue, but his advanced metrics tell a story of comically bad luck: Sánchez’s 17.4% barrel rate is in the top 3 percent of all big leaguers, but his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is only .143.

It is expected that Higashioka will be behind the plate to catch right-hander Gerrit Cole. That battery has excelled over a three-start span in which Cole has pitched to a 3-0 record and a 0.86 ERA, limiting the Orioles and Blue Jays to a .139 average.

In addition to being rated as an elite defender, Higashioka has showed progress with his offense, including a career-high three-homer game on Sept. 16, against Toronto. Overall, Higashioka is batting .255/.255/.532 with a double, four homers and 10 RBIs in 47 at-bats.

“Gary and I have a good relationship,” Higashioka said. “You don't want guys going at each other. We try to help each other out in terms of handling the pitchers, because we want to win. At the end of the day, it's all about winning. I think it's going to take both of us to play well going forward to have success.”

Boone stressed that no decisions have been finalized. Cole and Masahiro Tanaka are set to pitch the first two games of the postseason. Left-hander J.A. Happ and right-hander Deivi García are being considered for the third game; general manager Brian Cashman has indicated that Happ is the likely choice.

“We’re still five, six days away from the postseason,” Boone said. “In a lot of ways, that is a long time in baseball. Things happen and change every single day, so there’s nothing committed to right now. I expect both of those guys to play a role and hopefully play an important part of us being a champion.”

Gleyber's 'big opportunity'
Yankees infielder has been announced as a Special Olympics Global Ambassador, joining the Cubs' Willson Contreras as the first two Major League Baseball players to serve in the role.

“It’s a big opportunity,” Torres said. “I said yes, for sure. I’m a person who always likes to help people, and now I’ll get that opportunity. I’m so excited to see what we can do and be with those guys. It’s a great experience for me.”

As part of his duties, Torres will work to build bridges of inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities spanning the Americas, specifically partnering with Special Olympics New York and Special Olympics Florida.

Glove story
Torres committed his seventh error of the season in New York’s 14-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday. As he nears the end of his first full season as the Yanks’ shortstop, Torres said that he recognizes that there is room for improvement.

“I struggled in the beginning, but I feel confident,” Torres said. “I think errors are part of the game. I just try to figure out how to get better every day. I’m working every day before the game and being focused. I’m going to try to do the best I can do during the postseason and help my pitchers.”

Bombers bits
flashed his knuckleball for the second time in four games on Wednesday, working the eighth inning. He became the first Yankees position player to pitch at least twice in a season since Rick Cerone in 1987.

This date in Yankees history
Sept. 24, 1929: Yankees left-hander Tom Zachary improved his won-loss record to 12-0 with a victory over the Red Sox. The mark remains a Major League record for the most wins in a single season without a loss.