Gary Sanchez may be the muscle but Austin Romine is the true hero behind the plate for New York Yankees starting pitching.
No, he’s not the young stud who has an absolute cannon for an arm. He doesn’t slug home runs on a weekly basis. No, Romine instead has been the one helping keep the rotation afloat so far this season.
I’ve discussed earlier how Romine should be the personal catcher for Michael Pineda. However, as the season wears on, the presence of Romine behind the plate is making a huge difference for Yankees starters.
It is unclear exactly why this is the case but Romine seems to be making pitchers comfortable behind the plate every time he squats down. He’s calling the right pitches and knows his own pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses. Romine has done his homework and it’s paying off.
Remember Masahiro Tanaka’s complete game gem against the Boston Red Sox? What about Luis Severino’s impressive seven innings, 11 strikeout performance over the Tampa Bay Rays? Or even Pineda’s first stellar start of the season, striking out 11 while allowing one run?
All of those performances have one common denominator; Austin Romine crouching behind the plate. Need some statistics to back that up? I’ll gladly provide them for you.
Both Romine and Sanchez have made 21 starts this season for the same sample size. When it comes to Sanchez with starting pitchers, he has caught 113.2 innings for them. Romine has caught 134.2 innings from starting pitching.
When Romine is behind the plate, starters are averaging over six innings for each start. When Sanchez is camped out back there, starters average a little over five innings of work. Romine brings out more innings in pitchers than Sanchez does so far this season.
When it comes home runs, Sanchez has allowed more than Romine. When Romine is catching, opponents hit 20 home runs off of starters while Sanchez has allowed 23 home runs when behind the plate.
Perhaps some of the most important stats would be in regards to control from the starting pitchers. With Sanchez behind the dish, starters have given up 39 walks while striking out 106 batters. With Romine, starters have given up only 29 walks while striking out 137 batters. Just remember, these sample sizes are exactly the same. Both catchers have started 21 games yet Romine has significantly better success with starting pitchers.
Does it mean that Romine will take over for Sanchez? Absolutely not. There is no way in this world that Sanchez, one of the most exciting prospects since perhaps Derek Jeter, would be taken out of the starting role.
But the numbers… they have to mean SOMETHING. It means that Romine clearly has a better rapport with these starters than Sanchez. And that has nothing to do with talent, but more to do with personality.
Sanchez may be an incredible player but he could still learn a lot about the way Romine deals with those same pitchers. Because clearly, something is making a difference. It’s no fluke that pitchers have done better with Romine than Sanchez.
Take Tanaka for instance. Entering Friday’s game, Tanaka has pitched to Romine and Sanchez for five games this season. With Romine, he had a 2.45 ERA while holding opponents to a .206 batting average. Pitching to Sanchez, he had a 12.27 ERA with opponents batting .422 against him.
And after Friday’s game? Tanaka pitched a gem, striking out a career-high 13 in 7.1 innings of work. He allowed one run, despite taking the loss due to the bullpen imploding.
And who was behind the plate? Romine again.
This is not just for the current season. Last year, Sanchez’ catcher’s ERA was 4.41 compared to Romine’s 3.88 ERA. These stats are not to dis or discourage Gary Sanchez in any way. No, these stats are showing that while on the surface, Sanchez is getting all the starts, Romine is making a huge difference behind the plate.
The Yankees are winning which is excellent. Their offense is picking up their starters and recently, their starters have shown they have what it takes to help carry the Yankees through the season. Sanchez is still a young player and has much to learn. He can easily learn it from Romine.
Austin Romine is a veteran, he’s experienced and he knows what to do behind the plate. I guarantee you that the more seasons Sanchez has under his belt, the better his stats will be with starters.
For now, we just have to say that Romine is the one who has been holding the starting rotation together. The New York Yankees wouldn’t be where they are right now without the plate presence of Austin Romine, the second-string catcher.