Following a strong start by Sonny Gray against the Houston Astros, Aaron Boone decided that whenever possible, Austin Romine will catch for Gray.
Well, it’s no secret that the story of the New York Yankees pitching rotation is how absolutely terrible former Cy Young finalist Sonny Gray has been. The extremely frustrating thing about it is that he’s demonstrated his fantastic stuff and should be able to get outs with no problem.
So fans, myself included, started desperately searching for a reason that a should-be ace was pitching like a long reliever for the Staten Island Yankees. We fans found that excuse in shaky split numbers between starts in which Gray pitches to Gary Sanchez and starts in which he pitches to Austin Romine.
And a narrative began to form. “Sonny Gray needs Austin Romine to be his personal catcher.” Now, according to ESPN’s Coley Harvey, Aaron Boone will be putting Romine behind the plate for Gray in the immediate future.
“His next start is probably Saturday when we’re home [against Cleveland], which will be a day game after a night game,” Boone said. “So especially in those kinds of scenarios like here where we travel and got in in the middle of the night and where you know Gary [Sanchez] is going to be down.
“At least in the short term, we’ll do that [with Gray and Romine] and hopefully get to a point to where it doesn’t matter.”
It was an easy solution for fans to get behind because it’s easier than admitting what the real problem is. But this is the wrong move. Gary Sanchez is not the problem. Sonny Gray is.
Let me once again state very clearly for people who may accuse me of not supporting my team’s players: Sonny Gray should be an ace. His stuff is absolutely incredible. He should be getting through seven innings in 90 pitches and a slew of weak ground balls. I considered him to be good for at least 15 wins by the conclusion of the regular season.
But Gray refuses to attack hitters. He tries to make every pitch perfect and live on the black of the plate when he should really be using his array of pitches to get hitters to roll over the ball and make weak contact.
Do you think it’s a coincidence that Jordan Montgomery is having a great start to the year without overpowering stuff? Is it just happenstance that elderly giant CC Sabathia has only given up five earned runs in five starts? It’s not. They’ve both formed their game plans with the intention of getting bad contact and trusting their defense.
If Gray followed the same gameplan as Montgomery and Sabathia, he would instantly return to ace form. He’d get easy outs, double play balls, and go deeper into games with lower pitch counts.
If he keeps trying to stretch the limits of what an umpire is willing to call a strike, he’s going to keep getting into deep counts and being backed into a corner that forces him to throw something that gets too much of the plate. That strategy only works if Angel Hernandez is calling the game.
Giving Gray a personal catcher is a weak band-aid.
He needs to take his approach against the Astros and carry it over to his next start pitching to Gary Sanchez. The Yankees simply can’t afford to let him get into a rhythm pitching to Romine and then take that away when the playoffs come around.
Attack hitters and trust Gary Sanchez behind the plate. The team needs this duo to be on the same page if it’s going to find success in October.