The New York Yankees are trying to hold on to their lead for the American League’s top wild card spot along with stay within striking distance for the Eastern division crown, and their cause will be aided by having their starting catcher for more games.
After the skirmish in Detroit on Aug. 24, the New York Yankees were looking at a possibility of being in the heat of a pennant chase without their star catcher for four games. On Monday, the Gary Sánchez suspension was reduced by one game to three contests.
According to the New York Post, Sánchez will start serving his suspension on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4 and miss the entirety of the series in Baltimore against the Orioles. After the Yankees’ off day on Thursday, Sept. 7, he will be eligible to play again in Texas for the weekend series against the Rangers and beyond.
Austin Romine is scheduled to start Monday’s game in Sánchez’s place, batting ninth against Orioles starter Dylan Bundy. Fans should expect Romine to fill in for most of the action behind the dish during Sánchez’s suspension.
Because of Sánchez’s appeal, the Yankees had Sanchez in the lineup during the past series against the AL-East leading Boston Red Sox, which the Yankees won by taking three out of four games. That trimmed the Yankees’ deficit in the division race to just 3.5 games going into play on Labor Day, a benchmark date for the standings.
Conversely, Sánchez won’t be available for the looming road series against the streaking Orioles, who have won eight of their last 10 games to put themselves just a game and a half out of position for the AL’s second wild card spot. The Orioles trail the Yankees in the overall wild card standings by just 3.5 games, so a Baltimore sweep of New York could tighten things up a lot.
Sánchez starts his suspension slashing .244/.344/.870 with 28 home runs and 79 runs batted in 395 at-bats over 103 games on the season. In 200 fewer at-bats and 35 fewer games, Romine is slashing .215/.271/.563 with two long balls and 21 RBIs.
Regardless of who is catching, the three games that Sánchez is going to miss are important contests for the Yankees in their quest to host the AL’s wild card game at worst. How well Romine will fill in for Sánchez during this series will play a significant part in that determination.