Gary Sanchez last played for the New York Yankees on July 23rd. He aggravated an earlier groin injury, and was lambasted for displaying a lack of hustle in the process. That was 37 days ago, however, or ancient history as far as baseball is concerned. Now it appears that Sanchez’s return is imminent. Thank goodness for that, because it can’t come soon enough.
Since placing Sanchez on the DL, the Yankees’ offense sputtered. Heading into Tuesday night’s game, the Bombers slashed .248/.325/.427 with a 104 wRC+ in the wake of his injury. That’s a pedestrian output for a juggernaut offense. Of course, other factors come into play here. The team lost Aaron Judge shortly thereafter, and then Didi Gregorius found himself sidelined in the middle of August.
Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka tried to pick up the slack, but neither can bring the firepower that Sanchez provides. Romine has a 75 wRC+ since taking over as the everyday catcher. Higashioka, meanwhile, sports a 33 wRC+. Factor in the overexposure of Shane Robinson, Luke Voit, and Greg Bird, and the Yankees have a lot of dead weight in their lineup.
Sanchez, of course, struggled mightily when he saw playing time this season. He hit .188/.283/.416 with an 89 wRC+ over 66 games. The Kraken did slug 14 home runs, though, and he comes with the background of being one the best hitting catchers in baseball. Combine health with some positive regression and it’s not unrealistic to envision Sanchez stabilizing the lineup down the stretch.
After all, he’s tearing the cover off the ball in his rehab assignment. He slugged a first pitch home run with Triple-A Scranton two nights ago, then he launched an opposite field bomb last night. To the highlight reel!
Gary Sanchez homers, this time out to right. It’s his second homer in two games and fourth with the RailRiders this season. pic.twitter.com/FQyBHzYZJl— Conor Foley (@RailRidersTT) August 29, 2018
Give me the Sanchez home runs; I missed them so much. Just plug him into the lineup right now. He looks like an instant improvement to the offense.
Luckily, Yankees fans won’t have to wait long. Manager Aaron Boone indicated that Sanchez could return to the big league team as soon as the holiday weekend. He expects the Kraken will travel with the squad as they embark on a West Coast trip next week.
That’s fantastic news for the Bombers. The schedule gets tougher as the calendar flips to September, and the team can respond by plugging a power hitting catcher into the lineup. Plus, with the Red Sox teetering, every little bit helps. Who knows, maybe one of Sanchez’s trademark home run streaks could power the Yankees to a division title.
It’s been a rough go for Sanchez in 2018. There’s no denying that. Now, however, he has a chance to put it all behind him. He can come back healthy and give the lineup a much needed shot in the arm. That would be good for him, and great for the Yankees.