Austin Romine has one postseason start on his résumé, and he’s 1-0. He went 0-for-2 in the Yankees’ memorable, come-from-behind, 6-4 victory over the Astros in last year’s American League Championship Series Game 4.
Now that he’s the new and improved version of Romine, would you have any hesitation about seeing him start the majority of the Yankees’ (desired) upcoming postseason run?
The Post wouldn’t. The Yankees shouldn’t.
Romine slugged a two-run, fifth-inning homer and guided J.A. Happ and the Yankees to a 4-1 defeat of the Rays Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, rebounding from their Subway Series beatdown on Monday night. The 29-year-old now owns a respectable .269/.318/.467 slash line in 58 games, 51 of them starts at catcher.
This doesn’t mean that Gary Sanchez should ride the bench upon his return from the disabled list.
Nevertheless, the Yankees should deploy a short leash in the short term on Sanchez, who had been enduring his worst major league season, particularly if the Yankees find themselves battling the A’s and/or Mariners for home-field advantage in the Oct. 3 American League wild-card game.
Modal TriggerAustin Romine celebrates after belting a two-run homer in the Yankees’ 4-1 win Tuesday night.
Austin Romine celebrates after belting a two-run homer in the Yankees’ 4-1 win Tuesday night.Paul J. Bereswill
The Yankees have a perfectly capable everyday catcher in Sanchez’s absence. Romine has displayed that he can be the main guy for a championship run.
“He’s been really good for us. Both sides of the ball,” Aaron Boone said of Romine. “He just … impacts our club in so many positive ways every day, just with who he is, what he brings.”
Romine always brought the defense — an ability to work smoothly with pitchers, block balls and control opposing base runners — that made him a major-league entity in the first place. Now he has provided a considerable uptick from his previous offense and done so with more playing time.
“Nothing I’m not used to,” Romine said of his workload. “I caught all the time in the minor leagues, so I know what it’s like. I know what it takes. It’s just been a while. Fatigue-wise, no. I’ve been given days off. They’ve been good with me with that.
“Honestly I would much rather not have any days off, because I know how much playing every day right now means. But I’m not tired, no more than any other catcher who’s playing four, five times, six times a week.”
Sanchez, on the disabled list with a strained right groin for the second time this season, could play in a minor league rehabilitation game as soon as next week, Boone said. The polarizing catcher spoke with the media Tuesday afternoon and said he has been watching as many of the Yankees’ games as his rehab schedule allows.
Romine and his backup Kyle Higashioka have “done an amazing job,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “To me, there’s no weakness back there. Those guys have been great behind the plate.”
Agreed, by and large. What the Yankees miss most of all is Sanchez’s power potential, which dissipated but didn’t disappear this season as he compiled a .188/.283/.416 slash line in 66 games while continuing his problems with blocking balls as well as his well-publicized failure to hustle in a July 23 loss to the Rays.