On Sunday in Toronto Luis Severino put together his third straight start of at least six innings, seven or more strikeouts, one walk, and two or fewer earned runs. In the process lowering his ERA to a stellar 2.90 and his WHIP to 1.07, good for fifth best in all of baseball. While Sunday’s start was some what spoiled due to a two out, 7th inning, first pitch, get-me-over slider that the Blue Jays Justin Smoak deposited over the wall in right field Severino gave the Yankees every chance to win a game that they ultimately lost 3-2 when Tyler Clippard came on in relief and served up a high change-up to Josh Donaldson.
Despite Sunday’s result, giving the Yankees a chance to win has been a staple of Severino starts this season. In his 11 starts the 23 year old has allowed more than three runs in a game only twice and seven times has not allowed more than two. With incumbent ace Masahiro Tanaka struggling mightily in 2017 Severino’s emergence has been exactly what the Yankees rotation needed.
When Severino broke into the majors as a 21 year old in 2015 and posted a 2.89 ERA in his 11 starts Yankee fans were certain they were watching the next great homegrown pitching talent. But in 2016 a combination of the classic sophomore slump and an over reliance on his incandescent fastball saw Severino get knocked around in April and May before getting sent down for a two month stint in AAA. Severino got the call back up to the big club at the end of July and would spend the rest of the season coming out of the bullpen, impressively I might add. This led to an off-season of speculation that due to his limited pitch repertoire perhaps he would be better suited as a back end of the bullpen guy. But Severino wanted to be a starter and put the work in this off-season (which included falling under the tutelage of Pedro Martinez) to earn himself another chance in the rotation.
— Luis Severino (@LuisSeverino94) January 20, 2017
Severino came into 2017 armed with a new mindset, a more refined slider, and confidence in a change-up that he seldom went to in the past. The combination of his league leading 97.1 mph fastball and two secondary pitches have made all the difference in the world the second and third time through opposing lineups. It’s still early but so far it looks like Severino may actually be able to live up to the expectations that the success of his 2015 debut created.