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Gary Sánchez exits game early with hand injury

When it rains, it pours. Gary Sánchez, one of the few Yankees off to a decent start this season, left today’s ballgame a couple of innings after taking a foul ball to his hand.

The training staff and Aaron Boone checked on Sánchez immediately, but the backstop remained in the game for the rest of the fourth inning. He even hit in the bottom half of the frame and flew out. His swing didn’t look so great during the at-bat. Gary typically has a one-hand finish, but it looked like he had almost no use of his right arm on any of his swings. It was probably painful to hold the bat.

Come the top half of the fifth, Sánchez warmed up Jordan Montgomery but was removed once the inning was about to begin. Kyle Higashioka took over.

I imagine Sánchez will get some imaging and/or testing done today and we’ll find out more later. We’ll update this post as more details emerge.

UPDATE: No broken bones, thankfully. I imagine Gary won’t play tomorrow and there’s no game on Monday, so hopefully he’s back in the lineup Tuesday. Here’s the Yankees’ announcement:

Thoughts ahead of today’s rubber game against Toronto

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Happy hump day, folks. The Yankees are 5-6 as of this writing, and while that’s a less than ideal start to the season, it’s important to emphasize that there are still 151 games remaining on the slate. I’m not sure what the cause is, but it feels like everyone is hyper-focused and scrutinizing each and every pitch so far unlike any season prior. Perhaps that’s because people are more focused on baseball after 2020’s general awfulness. Nonetheless, as the old saying goes: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. So with that, I have some thoughts on the Bombers thus far.

The non-Cole starters need to do better finishing at-bats. Not everyone can be Gerrit Cole, obviously, but the rest of the Yankees’ rotation has had a lot of trouble putting away hitters when they get to two strikes. We saw it last night with Jameson Taillon, namely in his second inning. He wound up plunking a batter and walking another after getting to a couple of favorable two strike counts. Unfortunately, that’s been a theme for the Yankees’ starters thus far, other than the ace of course. Some numbers to chew on:

OBPK-Rate (%)
NYY excl. Cole.29744.5
SP in two strike counts.
OBPK-Rate (%)
NYY excl. Cole.30533.3
SP ahead in the count.

Ugly, to say the least. It’s no wonder that the rotation hasn’t been able to offer much length so far this season. Can’t go deep into games if you’re unable to put away opponents in pitcher’s counts consistently. As I noted in last night’s recap, the team has gotten 5+ innings from its starters four times in eleven games. All of those came from Cole and Jordan Montgomery.

Now, it’s very early in the season and I’m not ready to hit the panic button on this rotation. A few reasons why I’m still confident:

  • Corey Kluber will not maintain a 15.2 percent walk rate. Admittedly, his command has not been good to date. But we’ve seen flashes, and his stuff looks fine. There’s still some rust to shake off here.
  • Jordan Montgomery is terrific at suppressing hard contact. I know his last start didn’t exemplify this, but I believe that was a blip. Monty owns a career hard hit rate of 31.5 percent, well below the league mark of 35.1.
  • Jameson Taillon’s stuff looks sharp. He’s dotting his fastball up in the zone and getting tons of whiffs. He had a difficult time honing his breaking balls last night, but the movement and spin on those offerings are still very good. I think we’ll see more of the performance he gave in his first outing, plus some more length as he builds up.
  • Deivi García is waiting in the wings and even though Domingo Germán had two terrible starts, I think he’s perfectly capable of being a better-than-your-typical fifth starter.

Game 11: Ryu dominates, but Sánchez’s baserunning blunder foils comeback

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Tonight’s 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays never really felt all that close, aside for a brief moment in the eighth inning. Before that, Toronto’s ace Hyun Jin Ryu shut down the Yankees’ bats while Jameson Taillon struggled with his command in a short outing. And yet, things started to go the Yankees’ way in the eighth against the Blue Jays’ bullpen.

The Yankees had the tying run at the plate in Aaron Hicks against lights-out closer Julian Merryweather with two outs in the eighth. Unfortunately, Merryweather didn’t even need to retire Hicks to escape. Instead, Gary Sánchez got caught in a rundown after a pitch in the dirt and was tagged out to end the threat.

There’s no doubt it was atrocious baserunning, and it’s very frustrating that the bat was taken out of Hicks’ hands. Still would have been a really difficult matchup for the Yankees’ center fielder, but you never know. Anyway, to the takeaways:

Sánchez’s Satisfying Start

Is it way too early to write this? Hell yes. Do I care? Hell no.

As a long time fan–Stan, really–of Gary Sánchez, it’s been so satisfying to watch him get off to a hot start in the first two games of the 2021 season. And if Joel Sherman can write a piece that concern trolls about the Yankee offense after one game, I can write the polar opposite piece and be pumped about Gary’s two (clutch) dingers.

Context matters for these homers, so let’s dive into the context just a little bit. His first homer, on Opening Day off of Blue Jay lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, came in the second inning with a man aboard and gave the Yankees the lead. His second homer, yesterday off of righty Ross Stripling, came in the fourth inning and gave the Yankees the lead. It’s early, of course, but seeing Sánchez come up big in important spots–even if they were early in the game–is great. Last year, Gary was one of the guys you wouldn’t want to see in those spots, given his struggles.

The next bit of context is from where those home runs were hit. Both were in the low, outside portion of the strike zone.

In that spot last year, Gary hit just .158 with a meager .211 SLG, a meager .053 ISO. It’s just two swings, two pitches, two homers, but whatever, it’s encouraging and I’m running with it.

Lastly, there’s the pitch types. Against Ryu, Sánchez hit his homer on a fastball. Against Stripling, a slider. While he was still in the black against fastballs in 2020, a +1 run value per Statcast, he underperformed against them in terms of power, hitting to a .450 SLG with a .489 XLSG (.344 wOBA; .371 XWOBA). Seeing him lay into a fastball, turning on an outside one to hammer it to deep left, is encouraging.

The same goes for sliders as breaking balls totally owned Sánchez last year when he hit just .115 with a .213 SLG against them, good for a -8 run value. A slider down and away is killer to most batters, but especially Gary last year. How many flailing hacks at such a pitch did we see him take? Taking a low-and-away slider deep surely inspires confidence, even if it’s just for the moment, just in the second game of the year.

But for Sánchez, after last year, I don’t think we can understate the value of a hot start in helping him regain that confidence. We’ve all had our confidence shaken by struggles like Gary had last year. 2021 is a new page, a new chapter, and so far, it’s off to a great start.

Yankees Spring Training News & Notes: March 15, 2021


John Sterling and Michael Kay reunited for this afternoon’s broadcast on YES for the first time in two decades. A little bit of nostalgia was heartwarming on this freezing day in New York, no?

If you missed the duo’s reunion, you’ll have another chance to catch them together on March 22nd. That one’s a 6:30pm ballgame, so work may not interfere for some of you like it may have this afternoon.

Sterling and Kay got to call a 4-2 win over the Phillies. Domingo Germán was sharp again, which I’ll expand upon in a moment. Giancarlo Stanton had another nice game too. He tallied two hits, both absolutely crushed (110 and 120 MPH exit velos), and drove in two runs. Gary Sánchez and Rob Brantly pitched in a couple of RBI singles as well. Not that Grapefruit League records mean anything, but this win was the team’s sixth straight, moving the Yanks to 10-4. Now, onto the big story.

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