Oh, look! Another cavernous hole where celebrations of the best team in the American League should be! How nice of the New York Yankees to create more doubt in the middle of a year that started 49-16!
Remember when the dominant narrative in 2021 was all about how Yankees ace Gerrit Cole couldn’t survive with Gary Sánchez behind the plate and needed Kyle Higashioka like a potted plant needs sunlight? The “personal catcher” gumbo led to Higashioka playing a whole bunch of playoff games he had no business in, leaving the Yankees (at least) one bat short.
Well, Sánchez is gone. Guess who’s still here? And guess who’s found a new best friend while his numbers with the incumbent have plummeted beyond recognition?
With a day game after a night game, Aaron Boone turned to Higashioka in Jose Trevino’s stead on Wednesday with Cole on the mound. This day game became lights out in about four seconds, as Cole surrendered six first-inning runs on three homers.
Aberration? Or par for the course? Apparently, Cole’s struggles are all tied to Higgy and/or Billy Crystal this season, which poses an impressive conundrum: whose fault is this?
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole has been awful with Kyle Higashioka, great with Jose Trevino
Seemingly, this is Cole’s cross to bear more so than it is Higashioka’s. But considering how far below average Higgy’s offensive numbers have been this season, as well as how much more comfortable Cole seems to be with Trevino, the “day game after a night game” situation might need to be handled differently with the ace on the mound.
Or — and hear this out — Higashioka’s relevance to the roster may have expired, despite a garbage time home run in Wednesday’s series finale stinker. Ben Rortvedt, that’s your siren.
Cole has been excellent more often than he’s been brutal in 2022, but he’s also been moody and gelatinous from time to time, especially in key starts. Coming off a hard-fought loss last night, Cole toed the rubber against Luis Castillo, the deadline ace the Yankees passed on, looking to make a statement.
The statement he made? “Help.”
The right-handed All-Star has now made five starts this season with five or more runs allowed, sporting an 8.89 ERA in those five outings (hat tip to Chris Shearn). He’s also been too homer-prone for that propensity to be shrugged off.
Too often this season, Cole has been set off by the smallest inconvenience, from a blown call to a defensive miscue to apparently the face of Kyle Higashioka, even though it’s buried beneath a mask.
While these Higgy-Trevino splits are glaring, the real culprit for the difficult scene may be the man on the mound.