Gerrit Cole is a better pitcher when his batterymate is Kyle Higashioka instead of Gary Sanchez.
This is a simple statement that is supported by obvious statistics as Higashioka has quickly become the personal catcher of Cole, who once again was solid on Monday night — allowing one run on three hits while striking out eight in six innings of work.
In 13 innings of work together this season, Cole has allowed just one run (0.69 ERA) on seven hits while striking out 21 while not allowing a single walk.
With Sanchez behind the plate on Opening Day, Cole allowed two runs, struck out eight, and walked two in 5.1 innings of work.
A limited sample size, of course, but the trend continues back to last season, too:
Gerrit Cole 2020 regular-season stats, Kyle Higashioka as catcher
- 27 innings pitched (4 starts)
- 1.00 ERA (3 earned runs)
- 4.6 hits allowed/9 innings
- 11.3 strikeouts/9 innings
- 6.80 strikeouts/walk
- .147 opponent’s batting average
Gerrit Cole 2020 regular-season stats, Gary Sanchez as catcher
- 46 innings pitched (8 starts)
- 3.91 ERA (20 earned runs)
- 7.6 hits allowed/9 innings
- 11.7 strikeouts/9 innings
- 5.00 strikeouts/walk
- .224 opponent’s batting average
While Cole’s numbers are better with Higashioka behind the plate, Higashioka’s numbers in the batter’s box are significantly better when he’s catching Cole — proving that this is more of a symbiotic relationship than believed.
The 30-year-old backstop has always been called upon for his defense more than anything, sporting a career slash line of .199/.236/.423 with 12 career home runs and 31 RBI in 76 career games.
But he’s a completely different kind of threat at the plate when he’s catching Cole, including a monster night on Monday against the Blue Jays in which he belted two home runs in the 3-1 victory.
In six career regular-season games, Higashioka is batting 11-for-21 (.524) with six home runs — half of his career totals — with 12 RBI.
Seems like a no-brainer for Yankees manager Aaron Boone moving forward to keep Higashioka’s name penciled in the lineup when Cole is on the bump.