Gerrit Cole had his best start as a member of the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. He tossed seven innings of shutout ball, allowing just four hits and striking out 13 in the win.
Time to celebrate? Well, kinda.
We’d venture to say a lot of fans kind of forgot that Kyle Higashioka was behind the plate for Cole’s second start of the season while Gary Sanchez got a “day off.” The Yankees conveniently made it seem natural since Sanchez had caught the first four games of the season — and conveniently traded for Rougned Odor when making this big lineup change!
Something felt odd when Sanchez only caught Cole for ONE inning during spring training. We should’ve known then.
Now, after being told that Cole will not have a personal catcher in 2021 and that we can expect to see Sanchez back there when the ace takes the mound, the narrative is changing five games into the season.
Here’s what manager Aaron Boone told reporters after Tuesday’s win when he was inevitably asked about the Cole-Higgy pairing:
So Higgy is just going to be Cole’s personal catcher on an ad hoc basis? That’s what you’re telling us with these comments, when, heading into this year, fans were assured that wouldn’t necessarily be the case. But what else is new? The Yankees misleading their fans is commonplace at this point.
As we cool down, though, this isn’t necessarily a bad decision. Sanchez will need days off, Higgy has a roster spot for a reason, and Cole is better with him behind the dish. Fans, though, have every right to be upset because Sanchez, who is battling this year to prove he’s the team’s franchise starting catcher, was supposed to get these quality reps since Cole will also be in the Bronx for the next eight years.
Wouldn’t it be prudent for Sanchez to work with Cole as much as humanly possible so they can develop a rapport? It’s not exactly sending the right message if the two will be paired on a part-time basis in such a pivotal year for the slugging catcher.
The Yankees aren’t doing themselves any favors with the media and fans by seemingly changing course here, but Sanchez can make everyone forget about it if he continues to hit and maintain his bearings on defense.