Yankees Manager Sticking With His Catcher

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

 Gary Sanchez is not where he should be. The Yankees catcher is headed to those career lows in batting, on base percentage, RBI, and home runs. Though, manager Aaron Boone is not giving up on the all-star who is a major cog in the Yankees lineup.

Sanchez, AL leader in passed balls the past two years let another one get by him Sunday with a Zack Britton sinker. That led to a Tampa Bay runner advancing in the 9th inning and a Yankees loss. 

“Sinker in the dirt,” said Boone. “Because it’s Gary it’s gonna be a big deal,” he said. 

But this is a big deal. The manager is standing  by his catcher, and this lapse behind the plate contributed to the Yankees losing the series to the Rays. 

The Yankees , and after  a 7-1 start have lost 5-of their last 7 games. Not time to panic, as the abbreviated season has reached the quarter pole, but a possible concern. Sanchez with his defense and at bats have to improve.

Yet,  Boone, is aware that Gary Sanchez is not where he wants to be. And the Yankees catcher is getting that opportunity to find himself at the plate and in the daily lineup. 

The .086 average is not looking good. It’s not the numbers the All-Star is used to having by his name. Realize, this is a sprint and that offers minimal time for Sanchez to get his bat going.

Realize, Sanchez has the power and production. He is a cog in the lineup with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gleyber Torres. Hitting is contagious and in due time it is expected that Sanchez, Torres, and Stanton will offer more than a  .191 combined average.

Though, Stanton was removed in the sixth inning of the Yankees 6-3 second game loss to the Rays Saturday due to a right left hamstring. He  will undergo an MRI Monday and placed on the injured list.

An average that also accounts for Sanchez, with one home run and 3 RBI, the lone two-run homer last week off the Phillies’ Nick Pivetta and another bad day at the plate, Saturday, he  walked twice and stranded four on base.

He sat out the second game as the Yankees got a split with a 5-3 loss.

Regardless, Sanchez is a cog for Boone and the Yankees. He hoped to turn it around and there was optimism after that home run last week.Sanchez,  said then “I definitely think I was due. It was my time to put a good hit on the ball. They’ve been getting me out.”

Then, Boone said, he was seeing Sanchez coming off this slow start. The manager attributes to Sanchez and his home run power. Yes, expected that a home run hitter is expected to have a share of slumps and bad timing.

However, Sanchez is lost at the plate, and that does matter. This  is August,  an abbreviated season with a quarter gone and 44 left to play. Not much time to get the swing going. 

It’s obvious. Sanchez is chasing pitches out of the zone. Swinging at bad pitches and leaving runners as a cog at the bottom of the lineup. Though, defensively, behind the plate and exception of a few wild pitches that got by him, there has been improvement. 

Defense was supposed to be one part of Gary Sanchez that has improved, though Friday night, he also got crossed up on a wild pitch that set up the Rays’ game winning 1-0 win. But It has never been an issue to discuss what is wrong with Gary Sanchez and his proficiency to be a good hitter with ability to hit a long ball  and often.

In that loss Friday night at Tropicana Field, he struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh and chased a pitch well out of the zone. 

Or as one insider said, “Sanchez is in a  season that is not forgiving as in a prolonged slump. Today, and the way this season is constructed, hitters are going up there to go long in the count and swinging for the fences.” 

Saturday, second at bat and Sanchez was behind in the count. This time and not looking to swing for the fences. Behind 1-2, against Rays’ Tytler Glasnow, it was fastball, changeup, changeup that went foul, 2-2 fastball for a ball. 

Last pitch a 75 changeup and flew out to right that stranded Gio Urshela at third. That was considered a good at bat. The selection of pitches was better ,and Sanchez was looking to make contact. 

And 35 at bats and 20 strikeouts is not Gary Sanchez. Last year, 34 homers, and 77 RBI with slash lines of .232/.316/.525. Again, this pace of 60-games, Sanchez is headed to a career low in every category.

Boone has not commented about sitting his catcher, though, in game 2 Saturday, Sanchez was on the bench as the Yankees catching core is thin. The 40-year old Erik Kratz was in the lineup.

So, Gary Sanchez can’t afford more time without the marathon. The Yankees are not the same without his ability to drive in runs with the long ball or not.

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