New York Yankees: This Is Why Luis Severino Is Not A Reliever
Apr 18, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Luis Severino (40) delivers a pitch against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

After all the “experts” claiming Luis Severino will only be successful in the bullpen, the New York Yankees are looking bright after staying the course.

Young New York Yankees hurler Luis Severino put together the best start of his Major League career on Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals with eight four-hit, shutout innings in what would lead to a 3-0 victory for the Bombers.

The performance made it hard to believe that this was the Severino that posted an 8.50 ERA as a starter last season, was almost demoted to the minor leagues after spring training and was a guy many wanted to send to the bullpen and not say another word.

The 23-year-old is 3-2 on the season, owns a 3.11 ERA and has struck out 61 batters compared to just 14 walks. That’s good enough for a strikeout-to-walk rate of 4.36 percent — the fourth-best among qualified American League starters.

“He is pitching the way we thought he was capable of,’’ manager Joe Girardi said. “He was our ace tonight.”

But, the strides Severino has made go beyond the numbers. From his determination on the hill, confidence in his secondary pitches down to the vibe he exhibits during his starts, Luis Severino is making all the doubters eat their words. He is a brand-new pitcher.

Take Monday night for example. The youngster displayed impeccable mix by throwing his fastball just 38.60 percent of the time — the second-lowest usage of his career — and using his changeup and slider for the majority of the time. The most impressive utilization was when he threw three straight balls to Eric Hosmer in the top of the fourth inning. He battled back with two 95+ mph fastballs and a slider before catching the All-Star first baseman napping on a 3-2, 89.2 mph changeup for a called strike three — a pitch he had no confidence in a year ago.

His fastball averaged 97.93 mph, his slider was thrown for strikes with 1.72 inches of vertical movement and he trusted his changeup (and kept it down) enough for the highest usage (13.16 percent) in over a year. As you watch a showcase like that it kind of scratches your head to believe that Severino was being written off by many as a bullpen arm and nothing more.

Imagine that? Throwing a kid who has demonstrated front-of-the-rotation stuff before and who is currently demonstrating his ace-like ceiling into the seventh-inning role before he reached peak development.

You would also be giving up on the biggest workhorse in 2017’s rotation. Wednesday was the second time of this young season that the righty had pitched eight innings — the first time since a 4-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on April 18. Additionally, it was the fifth time Severino had gone at least seven, while no other Yankees pitcher has done so more than three times.

In a rotation that is missing its ace in Masahiro Tanaka, Severino has fit the bill. It may have taken a beating in 2016, a couple of demotions and work with Hall Of Famer Pedro Martinez to get him there, but the Yankees are witnessing the Severino they’d hope he’d be last year. Might be a little late, but it’s certainly better than never.