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Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka back in lineup again Thursday

Kyle Higashioka #66 of the Yankees rounds the

Kyle Higashioka #66 of the Yankees rounds the bases after hitting a 2-run home run in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on September 11, 2020. Credit: Getty Images/Mike Stobe

BUFFALO – It has already been established that Kyle Higashioka will be the starting catcher in any postseason games started by Gerrit Cole.

Looks like he might be behind the plate for pitchers other than Cole.

In a bit a surprise, Higashioka, who caught Cole Tuesday night, started again Thursday night, this time with Jordan Montgomery on the mound. Sanchez, who caught Masahiro Tanaka Wednesday night, was not in Thursday’s lineup and Aaron Boone before the game said the club’s current plan for the postseason when it comes to starting catcher is to evaluate it on day-to-day basis.

"It’s hard to predict," Boone said. "There’s nothing committed to right now, but I expect both guys to play a role and an important part of us being a champion."

Sanchez, 27, did himself no favors Wednesday. In addition to going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts – which dropped his season batting average to .143 and his season OPS to .615 – the catcher made two errors. One came on a snap throw to first, the other on a catcher’s interference.

"Obviously, performance matters, matchups matter, pairing guys matters," Boone said of what will go into the decision.

The 30-year-old Higashioka, for years a favorite of the Yankees’ analytics department, has clicked with Cole, who has a combined 1.00 ERA over his last four starts with the backstop. Additionally, Higashioka has started to show some of the pop evident at times in his minor league career but mostly missing when he’s had chances in the majors. This season Higashioka, whom Boone has consistently called "an elite receiver" since Spring Training I in February, is hitting .273 with an .841 OPS, that latter number helped in large part by the three-homer game he managed Sept. 16 vs. Toronto.

Day off for Judge

Aaron Judge, who returned from the IL last week, did not start Thursday after starting the first three games of this series. Boone said the expectation is for Judge to play all three games this weekend against the Marlins at the Stadium.

New York Sports