Posted on July 24, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

New York Yankees Gary Sanchez
Image via nypost.com

The New York Yankees may have won one of the most exciting games of the season on Tuesday, but it wasn’t all good news in the aftermath. On Wednesday, the Yankees placed catcher Gary Sanchez on the 10-day Injured List with a groin injury. It’s just one more injury the Bronx Bombers will have to overcome as they look to wrap up the AL East title and chase a championship in 2019.

Sanchez injured himself in the 8th inning of Tuesday’s win over the Twins. He was trying to beat out a potential infield single and strained his left groin right around the time he stepped on the bag. Sanchez had two separate stints on the IL last season because of a right groin injury. He was also sidelined in April because of a calf strain. While he believes this injury is minor, the Yankees quickly determined it was bad enough to warrant a trip to the IL.

“It felt kind of like a cramp,” Sanchez said through a translator after Tuesday’s game. “It’s nothing like what I had last year. The pain is completely different. It just feels a little tight, and it’s not preventing me from walking or anything like that. So I’m positive about that.”

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The injury comes at a time when Sanchez is struggling to get going at the plate. He’s hitless in his last 19 at-bats and his batting just .102 in the month of July. Amidst that slump, Sanchez has seen his season average drop to .229. Of course, with 24 home runs, he still has an OPS of .809, as he’s been one of New York’s most important sources of power this season.

On one hand, Sanchez could use a little breather with August around the corner. As long as the injury doesn’t turn into a long-term issue, getting a couple of weeks on the IL could help Sanchez rest up for the stretch run. After all, the Yankees are hoping to play deep into October and would like Sanchez to be as fresh as possible late in the season and into the postseason.

Of course, the Yankees also need Sanchez to get back on track offensively. He hit a disappointing .189 last season but was hitting at a much better clip throughout May and June. Sitting out at least 10 days will make it a little more difficult for Sanchez to get his timing back before the end of the season.

While Sanchez is out, Austin Romine will assume most of the catching duties. Kyle Higashioka, who was called up to take Sanchez’s spot on the roster, will be Romine’s backup. Romine has a paltry .590 OPS this season while Higashioka has never produced much offense at the big league level. Considering the recent slump from Sanchez, the Yankees will have to continue to get by without much offense from the catcher’s spot.

Obviously, losing Sanchez to the IL isn’t a short-term issue for the Yankees. New York holds a 10-game lead atop the AL East and should be able to coast to a division title. However, the Yankees may need Sanchez to be at his best offensively to win a championship. In that sense, seeing their starting catcher go to the IL in the middle of a slump is far from ideal.

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