After another rough outing for Luis Severino, the New York Yankees have an undeniable roadblock to October play.
The old saying goes, “You’re only as good as your next day’s starter,” and after an inspiring win for the New York Yankees on Saturday, their Achilles heel brought them back to earth on Sunday.
Luis Severino, who was once destined to take over the organization as the ace of the starting rotation, was roughed up yet again for seven earned runs on eight hits and two home runs in front of a frustrated crowd of 41,473.
The struggling youngster has dropped his record to 1-8 with a despicable earned run average of 7.19 and was even demoted back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for the third time this season.
Getting the call up to the Bronx was Chad Green , who will also get the starting nod tonight as the Bombers play the opening game of a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays.
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Even with the struggles of Severino, the injury to Nathan Eovaldi, and the poor middle relief, New York still finds itself a mere 4.5 games out of a playoff spot which can turn to a lead within a week.
That fact, however, is highly influenced by the young bats that have come up and made an impact. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Tyler Austin (combined 17-for-55 with nine RBI) have sparked the mediocre offense into an elite one but the starting pitching must take a leap in order for the Yankees to prove they are contenders rather than pretenders.
Since the All-Star break, Yankees’ starters have the 11th worst earned run average (4.74) and fewest innings pitched (163.1), have given up the most home runs (31), and rank ninth among American League teams in strikeouts (142).
Among teams that stand between them and a playoff spot (the Red Sox, Tigers, Mariners, and Astros), New York starters surrender almost an entire run more per game since the break.
These numbers, along with thin depth at middle relief, will serve as a significant roadblock as this team looks to make an improbable run.
An obvious statement would be that Severino needs to get better but he is, by no means, the only one who needs an unbelievable recovery in performance.
Masahiro Tanaka, while currently the ace of the mediocre staff, owns a 5.55 ERA in his last four starts while surrendering five home runs in the process. In the five-game stretch preceding his latest funk, he was 5-0.
Their veteran lefty, CC Sabathia shows flashes of his old self but loses his cool as his starts progress. While his overall ERA is the best it has been since 2012, in innings 1-3 batters hit a dismal .217 and he owns an ERA of 2.86 with a respectable BAbip of .258.
Once the fourth comes around, however, batters improve their average to .281 with an OPS that is almost 100 points higher than the Sabathia that comes out of the gate firing. Michael Pineda is a puzzle to figure out as well.
The new “Baby Bombers” desperately need a dependable ace that could give them consistency time-in and time-out along with a dependable staff behind him. After all, isn’t that one of the basic components of a winning team?
There isn’t that much to look for beyond Green and Luis Cessa as well. The farm is thin in MLB-ready pitching prospects while the free-agent market and waiver-cleared starters looks even slimmer.
The bottom line is that the pitching has to get more consistent and see a step up just as the offense saw. You can’t put it simpler than that.
Realistically, this team has a shot at a postseason berth. Sure, they are total underdogs – especially after waiving the white flag – but until their arms improve the “little engine that could” will be known as the little engine that didn’t because their pitching was too inept to carry a talented, youthful squad to the playoffs.