DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a hit piece on Gary Sanchez. Far from it.
On Monday night, Higgy proved that he should be Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher, whether that fuels debate among the fan base or not.
Higgy has now caught two of Cole’s best starts as a Yankee. In the right-hander’s last two outings against the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays, he’s allowed just one earned run on seven hits and a walk while striking out 21 batters across 13 innings.
It’s time for the Yankees to end the charade and make Kyle Higashioka Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher.
He also made Yankees’ history on Monday night with his strikeout count through his first three starts in 2021. The Yankees paid $324 million for this man and need to maximize his efficiency every time he’s on the mound. And it’s clear that’s what Higashioka does when this is the pairing.
It does seem a bit silly that Sanchez, the supposed franchise catcher, clearly isn’t the top choice to be behind the plate for the team’s ace, who is under contract for the next eight years. But should it really bother fans? Sanchez can catch the other four days and potentially DH when Cole is on the mound. His bat has been arguably the best on the team, so there’s a solution for manager Aaron Boone to keep him in there if he wants to give him a rest defensively.
And if Higgy’s bat is coming through when he’s on the field, how could this possibly hurt?
He’s now 4-for-7 with three runs scored, two home runs, four RBI and a walk in the five games he’s appeared in this season. Two slugging catchers that complement one another and bring their own specific elements to a stacked Yankees roster? We’ll take it.
Here’s the thing: the Yankees are making very strategic excuses 10 games in as to why Sanchez won’t be catching Cole. First it was, “Cole won’t have a personal catcher this year. Gary Sanchez is our starting catcher.” Then Sanchez caught Cole for … one inning in spring training. Then, after Sanchez caught Cole in the Opening Day loss, Higashioka has caught the last two starts for the ace, and Boone said he’s going to try and pair them up fairly often.
As for the strategic excuses since Opening Day, they’ve been valid. Sanchez could’ve certainly used a day off after catching four straight contests on two separate occasions, the last of which came after a three-game set on the turf at Tropicana Field. They’re not wrong! It’s probably best not to wear out the slugging backstop early in the year.
But let’s not keep playing this childish game of trying to divert the fans’ attention. Everyone knows this is what the organization wants. It was made clear in 2020 and further exclaimed during the postseason. And it’s already happening at the onset of the new year.
If Higgy is raking on offense, fans won’t care either. Just make it official so we can ditch this discourse and focus our energy elsewhere.