If not, how’d he handle the switch so well?
The famously particular Cole made it crystal clear that he’d rather pitch to Higashioka than Gary Sánchez in 2020 and 2021. Although the decision was technically left up for grabs and never publicly mandated, sure enough Higashioka would be behind the dish for Opening Day and every crucial postseason game featuring Cole, from do-or-die contests to series openers. It was the clearest unwritten rule in the game.
So … did it really only take three subpar starts opening 2022 for Cole to ask for a different receiver? Or was the Yankees’ ace not necessarily a Higashioka devotee in the first place, but rather would’ve accepted anyone other than El Gary?
Early on in 2022, the Yankees appear to have two excellent defensive catchers on the roster: one who is ice cold at the plate in Higashioka, and one who’s been a bit of an offensive spark plug in Jose Trevino.
On Sunday, Aaron Boone flip-flopped them and tried to give Higashioka a second day off in the three-game set against the Guardians. It worked like a charm, as Cole delivered his first ace-like start in four tries in 2022.
Yankees’ Gerrit Cole looked better with Jose Trevino than Kyle Higashioka
So … whose idea was this? Who ordered the Code Red?
Boone, as he often does, got ahead of the conversation by taking credit for trying something out after the game wrapped. And, again, it’s not like Cole ever stated in 2020 or 2021, “I will only pitch to Higgy. No further questions.”
This not-so-subtle change to the status quo certainly jumpstarted the ace, though, and at the very least, Boone has found a second, workable model. It’s too early to call Higashioka a “problem,” and there’s plenty of evidence that that pairing works. It’s good to have roster flexibility, though, and analysts now know that if Trevino stays hot, Cole won’t demand he be removed from his role by the time his turn in the rotation comes up.
Whatever the choice, it’s all working. Yankees pitchers, through Sunday’s action, rank first in the American League in ERA and strikeouts and second in K/9 and batting average against. And the lovable Trevino is right at the center of it.
Trevino will likely get that pizza by the end of his New York tenure, which shouldn’t come anytime soon.
In case it wasn’t already obvious from his first two weeks in pinstripes, getting the tacit Cole seal of approval should further slide him inside the circle of trust.