Yankees May Bench Sanchez And Skip Severino In Wild Card Game

Yankees mound conference
Jeff Chiu / AP Images

In an 8-2 loss to the Oakland A’s, the two players cited as the most unimpressive were pitcher Luis Severino and catcher Gary Sanchez. Each has had their problems this year, but their combination of ineffectiveness, lack of hustle and attention, and history may be enough for Yankees skipper Aaron Boone to not risk using the pair in the one-game Wild Card playoff. Even if Boone is dodging questions about it as he did last night in the post-game press conference, more and more analysts are questioning if either should play in an all-or-nothing game, as reported by NJ Advance Media.

The reasons to sit the pair isn’t just based on one loss, it the how and why of it, and how it has become a somewhat consistent theme between the pair. Severino didn’t make it out of the third inning surrendering six runs, five of which were earned. He didn’t locate his fastball, his breaking ball wasn’t breaking, and in-game analysts said his pitches lacked any pop. Coincidentally enough, Yankee beat writer Randy Miller said Severino looked tired, needed to work out his problems in the bullpen, and should be skipped a start or two if necessary, to NJ Advance Media.

Sanchez has missed significant time this season with leg injuries, playing on 507 innings so far this season, but already leading or tied for the standards of defensive ineffectiveness. He has also been cited as lacking hustle and not having his head in the game, as reported by the Inquisitr. In the same discussion that questioned Severino’s capabilities yesterday, Sanchez’s defensive ineffectiveness was also a central issue. The first time they work as a battery since Sanchez came off the DL, they completely imploded on one another.

Severino threw two wild pitches. Sanchez was charged with two passed balls. While Severino took the blame on himself saying that Sanchez uses different signals than he used with Austin Romine, Sanchez said it was a product of not working with Severino for awhile and having some communication problems. The same excuse he gave in July that led to a fight between the pair in the dugout. As a point of reference, Sanchez is now tied for the league lead in passed balls with 13, a feat he managed in 351 fewer innings than Martin Maldonado whom he shares the spot with.

Statistically, it cannot be argued that Romine is a far superior defensive catcher and signal caller than Sanchez. He doesn’t hit anywhere near as well as Sanchez, however, which is why he is the backup. The argument many analysts are making is that if the Yankees go into a one-game, wild card playoff, every run will matter, and runs lost to defensive lapses behind the plate and poor signal calling or communication problems can sink them before the game really gets going. With Sanchez and Severino, this has been a consistent problem for two years. In fact, it is a problem Sanchez has with every starter and reliever. At this point, it is really a Sanchez problem.

Severino almost blew the wild card game last year, but a strong offensive outpouring and bullpen bailed him out. This year, his ERA is over 6.00 in the second half of the season and he either looks brilliant or he gets knocked out in the top third of the game. There has been almost no in-between. Oakland, who beat him last night and is their likely wild card opponent, has been particularly tough on him. In a do-or-die game in October, it isn’t about what someone did in July, it’s what they have done lately, and lately, neither Sanchez nor Severino looks ready to put the team on their shoulders and carry them to a victory.