October 8, 2020 | 3:49pm | Updated October 8, 2020 | 3:52pm
For a second straight game — and with their season on the line — the Yankees have benched Gary Sanchez in favor of Kyle Higashioka.
After starting Game 1 with Gerrit Cole on the mound and Wednesday’s Game 3 in Masahiro Tanaka’s start, Higashioka got the nod on Thursday with the Yankees on the verge of elimination in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Rays and Jordan Montgomery getting the start.
Asked about the catching situation prior to Wednesday’s game, Aaron Boone said the decision was based on “more what Kyle’s done, really, over the last month, month and a half of just playing really good baseball. He’s been really good behind the plate. He’s obviously done a good job offensively and it’s just about Higgy earning more opportunities here of late and just wanted him here today with [Tanaka].”
There are other reasons behind the move, perhaps most tellingly Montgomery had a 6.23 ERA in six starts and 26 innings pitching to Sanchez, compared to a 3.77 ERA over 14 ⅓ innings in three starts while paired with Higashioka.
But it’s clear to anyone paying attention that the Yankees have lost complete faith in Sanchez after a disastrous regular season and a postseason that’s seen him hit a key two-run homer in Game 2 of the wild-card series against the Indians, but little else.
Since then, Sanchez has played just once, when he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in a Game 2 loss to the Rays at Petco Park in San Diego — a game in which Sanchez also had a passed ball.
At this point, it’s fair to question Sanchez’s future in The Bronx, something that would have been difficult to believe as recently as last year, when he hit 34 homers.