Cole had a 1.00 ERA in four starts this season with Higashioka behind the plate, but posted a 3.91 ERA in eight starts with Sanchez.
“He was fine,” Boone said about Sanchez’s reaction. “He knows to be ready at any point, early in the game.”
The Yankees lost six of their last eight regular-season games, which included series losses to the Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins, but they still limped into the wild-card round as the fifth seed in the first 16-team expanded playoffs in MLB history, setting up the matchup with Cleveland.
Before the slump to end the year, the Yankees put together a 10-game winning streak to help secure a berth. Included in that run was a 13-2 win over Toronto on Sept. 16, in which Higashioka slugged a career-high three home runs.
Higashioka was a seventh-round draft pick by New York in 2008, and only Brett Gardner has been with the organization longer. He debuted in the majors in 2017 but has never gotten regular at-bats until he began siphoning playing time amid Sanchez’s struggles.