Yankees: No more special treatment for Sonny Gray
Since joining the Yankees in August of 2017 Sonny Gray has been a much more effective pitcher when Austin Romine is behind the plate as opposed to Gary Sanchez. Because of this Romine has essentially become Gray’s his personal catcher.
It’s obvious that Gray is clearly more comfortable throwing to Romine and has never really been able to get on the same page as Sanchez. So much so that last October in Game 4 of the ALCS it was Romine catching Gray for the Yankees and Sanchez at DH.
Earlier this season, it made sense for Aaron Boone to make Romine Gray’s personal catcher when he was really struggling over the first month of the season with an ERA of 6.67. Even though Boone said he was against the idea, Sanchez hasn’t caught Gray since his second start of the season back in April.
For the most part, it’s worked out as Gray’s numbers have improved and Romine has had a breakout offensive season. However lately it’s come at the cost of playing time for Sanchez who has been trying to bust out of a terrible slump.
In recent days Sanchez has looked much better at the plate but he’s hit into a ton of bad luck. On Friday night he hit a 385 ft flyball at 104 mph, a 397 ft flyball at 100 mph and 109 mph ground out to third base. Earlier in the week, he hit the hardest ball recorded in baseball this season at 121.1 mph only for it to land in the left fielder’s glove.
On Saturday it seemed like Sanchez would be in the lineup in some form especially after Boone gave him the day off on Thursday. That was a day after he blasted a clutch game-tying home run on Wednesday night. Even after sitting on Thursday against Mariner’s lefty James Paxton, Sanchez got the day off again on Saturday because Gray was on the mound. Gray had a decent outing but he still gave up four earned in 6.2 innings.
The problem I have right now with this isn’t as much about Gray not pitching to Sanchez but more about Boone sitting his All-Star catcher for the second time in three days. Sanchez has struggled with his average for most of the season, but as I said he’s looked much better of late. And yet Boone kept him out of the lineup again just as it looked like he was starting to gain some momentum.
It wasn’t a big surprise to see Sanchez sit on Thursday because it was day game after a night game. But still, I didn’t like it. It all worked out and the Yankees won, but when a player is showing signs of getting hot you need to keep his bat in the lineup. Now I know every catcher needs a day off every now and then, but two in three days is not OK when the catcher sitting is a player of Sanchez’s caliber.
No more personal catchers
For that reason, it’s time for Gray and Sanchez to get back on the same page so they can be battery mates moving forward. The team can still find plenty of games for Romine to start, but it doesn’t always have to be when Gray pitches. As uncomfortable as it may be for Gray he needs to figure it out because come playoff time there’s no way Sanchez is going to be out of the lineup in favor of Romine.
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You might say Sanchez could DH like he did last postseason, but this year the lineup is different. Giancarlo Stanton is the primary DH and there’s no way he’s going to sit in the playoffs. Sure Stanton could also play left field but then that leaves Brett Gardner or Aaron Hicks out of the lineup.
As good as Romine has been and as much as he may deserve to get more playing time, the Yankees would be very unwise not to have Gray get used to pitching to Sanchez before the playoffs. Everybody else in the starting rotation does so and they’ve been much more consistent than Gray has been all season.
To Gray’s defense, he’s never really publically voiced his preference of Romine over Sanchez. But we know that’s the case. If Gray was pitching like an All-Star or a Cy Young it would be something to debate, but he’s not. He has an ERA near 5.00 and doesn’t deserve special treatment to pick which catcher he wants to throw to.
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Gary Sanchez is going to get hot and when he does the Yankees are going to want his bat in the lineup as much as possible. In the playoffs, they’ll want him behind the plate every game. I’m not saying Sanchez needs to catch Gray every time he starts from here on out, but they do need to get reacclimated. Now it’s just up to Boone to force the issue and make this pairing work moving forward.