Emerging theory behind Gary Sanchez’s Yankees nightmare

Sandy Alomar spent two decades catching in the majors, so he has an understanding of the difficulties Gary Sanchez has faced this season in trying to adapt to a new stance behind the plate.

The results have been brutal, as Sanchez’s productivity at the plate plummeted this season and he was benched in favor of Kyle Higashioka with Gerrit Cole on the mound in Tuesday’s Game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series against the Indians in Cleveland.

“He changed his style of catching and that’s a process,’’ said Alomar, who is serving as Cleveland’s manager during the postseason while Terry Francona deals with health issues.

“He has one knee down now and that’s gonna take time in order to see results,” Alomar said. “He’s a big guy with a good arm. I don’t know if that position is gonna help him a lot.”

The 6-foot-5 Alomar would know, although he stressed he hasn’t seen much of Sanchez this season, since the Yankees and Indians didn’t play during the regular season and he’s been limited to watching Sanchez on video.

But he knows how much of an impact a defensive change can have on a catcher’s offense.

“Absolutely,’’ Alomar said. “If you don’t feel comfortable yet with the situation and you’re trying to improve, it can affect your offense also. Possibly it’s affecting him. I don’t know.”

He hoped not to find out, as even though Sanchez wasn’t in the Game 1 lineup, Alomar remained wary of the 27-year-old, recalling that Sanchez hit 34 homers a year ago.

“He has talent and a good bat,’’ Alomare said. “I’m happy he’s not in the lineup, even though the other guy [Higashioka] hits home runs.”

Aaron Boone and the Yankees made the move to Higashioka largely because of Gerrit Cole’s success pitching to Sanchez’s backup.

In four regula- season starts with Higashioka behind the plate, Cole had a 1.00 ERA in 27 innings, compared to a 3.91 ERA in 46 innings over eight outings pitching to Sanchez.

On Monday, Higashioka said it was “of course” difficult for Sanchez to not be in the Game 1 lineup, but Higashioka was confident Sanchez would recover from the disappointment.

“I know Gary and I know he’s extremely mentally tough,’’ Higashioka said. “If anything, it’s gonna spur him on and [he’ll] perform even better and get back to his normal self.”

It’s been a while since that’s been on display, as Sanchez finished a disappointing regular season by going 2-for-20 with no extra-base hits, three walks and seven strikeouts. And Sanchez is coming off a 2019 postseason in which he went just 4-for-31 with a homer, three walks and 16 strikeouts.

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