Yankees RHP Gerrit Cole had an awesome response to being paired with catcher Kyle Higashioka after the catcher socked three home runs on Wednesday night.
As the lineup returns to full strength, it really doesn’t come as a surprise that the New York Yankees are finally hitting their stride following a lifeless five-game losing streak to open the final month of the regular season.
Thanks to a combination of stellar starting pitching and a relentless power surge from the offense, the Yankees have reclaimed the second spot in the AL East. Their work obviously isn’t finished just yet, but this team is firing on all cylinders right now and we really don’t know who (or what) is capable of slowing them down.
In many ways, rotation ace Gerrit Cole has spearheaded this turnaround. In his last two starts (both wins), he’s surrendered just one run while striking out 17 batters across 14 innings. Fans in the Bronx would admit that the three-time All-Star is showcasing a command on the mound that simply wasn’t noticeable across his first several starts.
Though Cole has gone to great lengths to defend Gary Sanchez this season, stats prove that he’s a different pitcher when paired with Kyle Higashioka. Well, after his dominant outing on Wednesday night against Toronto, the stud right-hander had some awesome comments for the wily backup catcher, flipping the script after his offensive surge redefined the evening.
It really feels like Cole has provided a laugh-out-loud comment during each one of his postgame press conferences this season. Of course, in this instance he’s referencing Higashioka’s random power outburst, as he clubbed three home runs to go with five RBI in the Yankees’ 13-2 rout of the Blue Jays on Wednesday.
In all seriousness, though, the 30-year-old catcher should continue to be Cole’s personal catcher down the final stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs.
The $324 million hurler logged a concerning 3.91 ERA over eight starts with Sanchez behind the plate. In his last three outings (20 innings) — all of which featured Higashioka — Cole has pitched to a ridiculous 0.90 ERA with 27 strikeouts. The tandem has been virtually flawless together outside of one inning against Baltimore back on Sept. 5 that featured a handful of unearned runs.
There’s history here, too — Higashioka used to catch Cole at age 13 and 14 back in California youth leagues, as the hurler reminded us all on Wednesday.
Whether Cole views himself as Higashioka’s personal pitcher, or vice versa, all we ask is that manager Aaron Boone doesn’t mess with their undeniable chemistry. If both players are healthy, they should be partnered together on the mound and behind the plate every five days.