Luis Severino continues to prove Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman a genius for sticking with his top prospect instead of making a big move for a veteran pitcher.
Cashman could have packaged Severino with Greg Bird and other prospects to get David Price or Cole Hamels. Though Price is leading Toronto into the playoffs and Hamels is doing the same with Texas, Severino is making his case to be a big part of the Yankees’ postseason plans.
Since being called up on August 5th, Severino is 5-3 with a sterling 2.77 ERA. This is after he went 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 19 starts between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees have a tough decision to make when it comes to who will start the Wild Card game, which they are likely to be in. The only one of their five starters with postseason experience is CC Sabathia, who has pitched well of late. Otherwise, the choice is between Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, or Adam Warren.
Severino would be a good choice to start in the playoffs, as he has shown a remarkable maturity for a 21-year old pitcher new to the majors.
Severino has proven to be a reliable commodity in the rotation, as he is the first Yankee in franchise history to allow two-runs-or-fewer in eight starts within his first 10 Major League games. He also has seven quality starts in ten games.
The latest was Sunday afternoon against the White Sox, when he allowed no runs on five hits in six innings, with one walk and two strikeouts.
Severino dominated a White Sox lineup that has some pop, and made the play of the game when Chicago got a rally going in the fifth. With two runners on base and nobody out, Rob Brantly hit a dribbler to first baseman Greg Bird, who fired to shortstop Didi Gregorious at second base, and Severino got to first and made the stretch like a first baseman would to make the catch and seal the double play.
Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said of Severino’s outing on Sunday, “Outstanding job today. You look at his last two starts after he had the tough one, he was very good. Kept his pitch count down the first four innings, last two innings he had to work a bit harder, that’s why I had to take him out, but I thought he threw a really good game.”
On what worked for Severino particularly well, Girardi said, “I thought his fastball looked really good today. I thought his change-up was pretty good today, and he mixed that in well.”
Girardi said of how he can forget that Severino is just 21 years old, “You really do just because of how mature he is and how prepared he is and has an idea of exactly what he wants to do. There aren’t a lot of 21-year old kids that can do that.”
Severino has been tested in a playoff-like atmosphere, judging by his three starts against the Blue Jays. In his first start against them in Toronto on August 16th, as he allowed just three runs on five hits and three walks, and notched nine strikeouts, in six innings and took the loss.
Then, when Severino faced the Blue Jays again, on September 11th, they took advantage of having a book on him and touched him up for six runs on 6 hits in just 2 1/3 innings. That was the start of the series in which the Jays scored 39 runs in their three wins of that four-game series.
Severino showed tremendous maturity by rebounding last Tuesday when the Yankees were in Toronto. He went six innings, and allowed just two runs on three hits in six innings, with three walks and three strikeouts. He got the no-decision, as Greg Bird won it with a three-home run in the 10th inning of the eventual 6-4 Yankees win.
Severino joined Tanaka as the only Yankees pitchers since 1992 to throw at least five innings and allow three runs or less in their first six starts. Five Yankees pitchers have done it since 1914.
In August, he led all Major League rookies with a 2.17 ERA, allowing just seven runs in 29 innings pitched. He was tied for seventh among rookies with 29 strikeouts and his .200 opponents’ batting average (21-for-105) was the lowest among American League rookies and tied for second among all rookies.