NEW YORK — “At this level a catcher had to be able to separate his problems at the plate from his job behind the plate. He could also be thinking about his defense when at the plate. He should be the DH during the slump.”
The quote and analysis about Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez. The quote from Latino sports columnist William Coppola, longtime advanced scout for numerous teams. He worked side-by-side with the late Tom Giordano, who was the longest reigning scout in the game.
Gary Sánchez 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 lineup.
Sánchez is hurting the Yankees and that has shown the past week with numerous runners left on base. Normal season, Sánchez can make the adjustments, but this Latino Sports MVP recipient has limited time with a quarter of this abbreviated schedule in the books.
This is a part of playing baseball during a global pandemic. The health risks are there. The value of an all-star is important and adjusting to that level is crucial at the plate with a stretch of games in that minimal amount of a 60-game span.
It’s a sprint and not a marathon. That is enough to describe the significance of a slump or a hot streak.
And then there is the defense. That has always been an issue for Gary Sanchez behind the plate. American League leader in passed balls the past two years, he 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 manager Aaron Boone. “Because it’s Gary it’s gonna be a big deal,” he said.
It’s more than analyzing and criticizing his catcher. This is a big deal that leads to costly runs against, and a loss. So the manager is standing by his catcher, which is expected but this lapse behind the plate contributed to the Yankees losing a series to a testy and good Rays’ team that will contend with the Yankees for the division lead.
And the at bats of a slump could be contributing to those mental lapses behind the plate.
The Yankees, after a 7-1 start have lost five of their last seven games. Not time to panic as the abbreviated season has reached the quarter pole but a possible concern.
Sánchez with his defense and at bats have to improve.
Yet, Boone is aware that Gary Sánchez 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.
Sánchez 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 Sánchez, 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 pull. Monday, an MRI once again placed Stanton on the injured list.
An average below. .100, that also accounts for Sánchez. 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, Sánchez is a cog for Boone and the Yankees. He hoped to turn it around and there was optimism after that home run last week. Sánchez, 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 Sánchez coming off this slow start. The manager attributes to Sánchez and his home run power. Yes, expected that a home run hitter is expected to have a share of slumps and bad timing.
However, Sánchez is lost at the plate, and that does matter. This is August, an abbreviated season and 44 left to play. Not much time to get the swing going.
It’s obvious. Sánchez is chasing pitches out of the zone. Swinging at bad pitches and leaving runners on as a cog at the bottom of the lineup. Except for a few wild pitches, that got by Sánchez, there has been some improvement.
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 Sánchez 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.
Saturday, second at bat and Sánchez was behind in the count. This time and not looking to swing for the fences. Behind 1-2, against Rays’ Tyler 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. Sánchez was looking to make contact.
And 35 at-bats and 20 strikeouts is not Gary Sánchez. Last year, 34 homers, and 77 RBI with slash lines of .232/.316/.525. Again, this pace of 60-games, Sánchez is headed to a career low in every category.
Boone has not commented about sitting his catcher, though, in game 2 Saturday, Sánchez was on the bench with the Yankees catching core ithin. and 40-year old Erik Kratz got the start.
So, Gary Sánchez 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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