Phillies: Erik Kratz joins Mariano Rivera in Yankees history

Phillies, Erik Kratz (Photo by Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)
Phillies, Erik Kratz (Photo by Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images) /

Former Phillies catcher Erik Kratz is making notable Yankees history

Despite turning 40 this past June, former Philadelphia Phillies catcher Erik Kratz is still playing Major League Baseball.

The Pennsylvania native has not donned red pinstripes since 2015, however, Kratz remains in the league as one of three catchers on the postseason-bound New York Yankees active roster — joining Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka.

Kratz has appeared in more than a dozen games for the Yankees this season, but not just as a catcher.  He was called upon to pitch in two different road games this week, both of which finished the game — last Sunday against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park (10-2 loss) and Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo (14-1 loss). He combined to allow just one hit, a solo home run, in each. In making these appearances, the 11-year veteran entered Yankees history alongside legendary Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera.

Just two relief pitchers in the last quarter-century have finished a game for the Yankees after turning 40: Kratz (two games finished) and Rivera (178 games finished), The Athletic’s Jayson Stark noted on Saturday as among his “Strange But True” feats.

Kratz also finished two games on the mound in 2016 — one each for different teams (Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates); in 2018, he finished three games for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Kratz, the first 40-year-old Yankees catcher since Deacon McGuire in 1906, is slashing an impressive .321/.367/.393 this season with seven singles, two doubles, four RBI, two walks, and six strikeouts spanning 30 plate appearances. He has appeared in MLB action for nine different teams across his career, the longest being with the Phillies from 2011-13 and again in 2015. While donning red pinstripes, Kratz hit .230/.290/.429 in 132 games.

Stark continued that the only other 40-plus-year-old position player to appear on the mound this century was Ichiro Suzuki — coincidentally while with the Miami Marlins against the Phillies in the 2015 season finale. And, over the last 75 years, the only other position player to pitch twice in the same season after turning 40 was Brewers catcher Rick Dempsey in 1991.

Kratz seems to be making history left and right, even at 40 years of age. Despite being in the majors since 2010, he has yet to earn a World Series championship. Kratz notably slashed .625/.625/.750 in eight plate appearances with the Brewers in the 2018 NLDS, however, the team fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the following NLCS series.

Perhaps 2020 will finally be Kratz’s year.

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