Manager Joe Girardi decided to go with C Austin Romine at catcher while Gary Sanchez will be the DH for Game 4 of the ALCS.
This move was expected as Romine caught Sonny Gray's simulated game in Houston, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.
Romine has yet to see the field this postseason. His last game came against the Blue Jays where he went 0-for-3.
The Yankees have struggled with their DH throughout the postseason as Chase Headley broke through with the slot's first hit on Monday with an RBI single. Between Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Matt Holliday, the DH slot is 1-for-30 with 11 strikeouts this postseason.
Sanchez will not only try to change that stat in Game 4, but his own as he has struggled to get on base as well. The 24-year-old is 6-for-38 (.158) this postseason, which includes an 0-for-11 stint with five strikeouts in the ALCS.
Romine will bat ninth while Sanchez will continue to hit clean-up.
I've been opposed to the notion that Romine get time behind the plate over Sanchez in the postseason, but if there is a good scenario to make the move it's in this Game 4. This is no conspiracy, but rather a calculated move by Yankees manager Joe Girardi. There are multiple factors at play.
First and foremost, Sonny Gray needs to feel as comfortable as possible to throw his off-speed stuff in the dirt. It's possible that he has been holding back with Sanchez, an inferior blocker to Romine, behind the plate. The Yankees must believe better blocking is more important than the ability to throw out potential base stealers, where Sanchez has a firm advantage over Romine.
Next, the Yankees are not getting any production from the designated hitter spot (and none of the options are strong against McCullers), so the swap in the lineup of Romine for any of the cast that has DH'd to this point is nil. Further, the Yankees can make a pinch-hitting move later in the game if needed, when it is likely Gray would be out of the contest. It would mean losing the DH, but the bench is deep enough to withstand it.
More on the offensive aspect; this could be what Sanchez needs to get him going offensively (he's 0-for-11 in the ALCS with five strikeouts). In Game 4, Sanchez's singular focus will be on hitting Lance McCullers (and whoever might enter in relief), rather than adding being a defensive stalwart behind the plate.
Finally, since Romine caught Gray's simulated game, hopefully the discussion with Sanchez about the swap was held at that point so that he already knew he'd be the DH in Game 4. As such, Sanchez should be focused offensively and ready to get back behind the plate in Game 5 with a bit of rest after catching the Yankees first nine playoff games.