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With Gary Sanchez Down, Yankees Need Players To Be Like Ronald Torreyes
- Updated: April 9, 2017
Heading into the season, the New York Yankees were down a key piece when shortstop Didi Gregorius went down with an arm injury while a member of Team Netherlands during the World Baseball Classic. Although the injury is believed to be short term, it jeopardized the Yankees’ first month of the season. Remember, last year the Yankees got off to a putrid start. Their record in April was 8-14. If the Yankees could have gone .500 during April last season, they would have made the playoffs. This year, the Yankees prepared themselves to go without Gregorius for the first month of the season. However, bad luck struck them this week with Gary Sanchez.
The first week of the season was not a good one for the Yankees. They lost both series they had, going 2-4 out of six games. While the losses are a negative, the biggest minus from this week was the injury to young catcher Gary Sanchez. On Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles, Sanchez injured himself while swinging at a pitch during his second at-bat. He was placed on the 10-day DL with a right biceps strain. The timetable for Sanchez’ return is not known as of right now. He will be evaluated Monday back in New York. Austin Romine will now take over as the starting catcher as minor leaguer Kyle Higashioka will serve as the backup.
Who is Kyle Higashioka?
The 26-year-old catcher put on a solid display during Spring Training this year. He batted .296 in 20 games with 2 home runs. Higashioka was a long shot to make the roster, but could have potentially replaced Romine as the backup catcher. He did not accomplish this, but he did stick around MLB Spring Training until one of the final waves of cuts.
Higashioka was drafted by the Yankees in the 7th round of the 2008 draft out of Edison High School in Huntington Beach, California. He split time last year between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. In the minors last year, he slashed .276/.337/.511 with 21 home runs and 81 RBIs. Expect Higashioka to get one or two starts per week while Sanchez is on the DL
Time to Step Up with Sanchez & Gregorius Down
If the Yankees have any hope of contending this season, they need stay above water during April. A 2-4 record to start off the season is not great, but if the Yankees can stay around .500 in April (or until Gregorius and Sanchez return), then they could be in good shape. As with any professional team, when injuries happen, the rest of the team needs to step up. This could not be more true for the Yankees. Two of the most important players on the roster will be out of the lineup for the foreseeable future. The rest of the offense needs to pick up that slack. More importantly, the pitching staff needs to help the offense out.
On Sunday, C.C. Sabathia pitched 6 innings. That was the first start from a pitcher that went past the 5th inning for the Yankees. Sabathia, who allowed 3 runs (2 earned) over those 6 innings, has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees. Both of Sabathia’s starts have resulted in wins. The rest of the pitching rotation needs to step up. Masahiro Tanaka bounced back well on Saturday, but he only went 5 innings. That will not be enough.
Ronald Torreyes Leading by Example
Who on the Yankees is leading the team in RBIs? The answer is quite shocking: Ronald Torreyes. The backup shortstop (starting now because of Gregorius) leads the Yankees with 7 RBIs. That is three more than the next closest person (Matt Holliday). Torreyes also hit the first home run of the season for the Bronx Bombers in the second game of the season. Simply put, Torreyes has been clutch. In Sunday’s game against the O’s, Torreyes hit a two-out triple that drove in 2 runs. This was the spark that the Yankees needed to bounce back into the game.
Torreyes had low expectations as the fill-in for Gregorius. Personally, I did not expect him to do much for the team offensively. At least for the first week of the season, Torreyes has proved me wrong. Batting .300 on top of his clutch hits, Torreyes can be the spark plug for the entire team. He bats ninth in the order, but the bottom of the order has been producing better than the rest of the order. Five of the top six hitters (in terms of batting average) are bottom of the order hitters.
Can Romine be like Torreyes?
The expectations for Torreyes has to be similar for the ones now put on Austin Romine. Romine, who has been with the Yankees since 2007, has to be serviceable as Sanchez’ replacement. Nobody is asking for Romine to hit 20 home runs in 50 games, but he has to be an average offensive catcher. Romine’s defense is solid; he might lack the arm of Sanchez, but he blocks and frames well. However, Romine struggles offensively. In his limited MLB experience, Romine is only batting .220. That will not be enough to help the Yankees stay around .500. If Romine can bat .240-.250 during this time, then he will do his job.
Revenge on the Rays
The Yankees have their home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays. A rematch from the opening series, the Yankees look to get even with the team that spoiled their opening series. Look for the Yankees to build off of the momentum from scoring 7 runs against a very good Baltimore bullpen. The probables for the Rays are Alex Cobb, Blake Snell, and Matt Andriese. The Yankees will be throwing out Michael Pineda, Luis Severino, and Tanaka.
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