Gary Sanchez to Start at Catcher in Wild Card Game for Yankees

As crazy as it would have sounded just a few months ago, the question of who the Yankees should start behind the plate for this year’s AL Wild Card matchup was a legitimate one. However, manager Aaron Boone announced Saturday that Gary Sanchez will indeed be his starting catcher for the one-game playoff.

It’s no secret Gary has seen more than a fair share of defensive struggles, but possessing a historically potent bat for a catcher has always been a reason to overlook it. Until the arrival of the 2018 campaign came about where the 25-year-old has hit a dreadful .184/.287/.398 with 16 home runs in an injury-plagued 82-game season.

With the combination of his inability to consistently catch and block the ball along with his once enormous offensive presence disappearing, the idea of starting backup catcher Austin Romine was a case that actually had some validity to it.

Romine, 29, is closing out the best season of his career, posting a .720 OPS with ten homers in 257 plate appearances. But the stability he provides behind the plate would have been the only reason he’d get the nod over Sanchez. Romine’s five passed balls in 593 innings caught is an immense difference compared to Gary’s 14 in just about the exact same number of innings (593.1).

Now, despite the brutal year Sanchez is having, it’s certainly hard to argue with the Yankees and Boone for starting him. After all, he became the 2nd-fastest player in baseball history to reach 60 career home runs this past April, 2nd to his teammate Aaron Judge. Clearly, he’s in the midst of an extended rough patch, but a player of his capability doesn’t just forget how to hit. And in a one-game shootout where one home run (or one passed ball) could drastically affect the outcome, the Yankees are doing the right thing in sticking with Gary Sanchez.

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