Baseball’s biggest surprise of the 2017 season, the New York Yankees, may have a trick up their sleeve against their potential Wild Card opponent.
The New York Yankees have already clinched a postseason berth and while they are not eliminated from division play, all signs are pointing to a Wild Card game appearance.
Who will start for New York in that contest? Right now it seems like it’s going to be 23-year-old Luis Severino — an apparent no-brainer.
With 221 strikeouts in 2017, Severino is in sole possession of fifth place on the Yankees’ single-season strikeouts list, trailing David Cone in fourth-place by just one. He is also 8-2 with a 2.34 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break, evidently leading the team to where it is now.
Despite the success manager Joe Girardi’s ace has experienced this season, would he consider not giving him the starting nod and instead give the duty to Chad Green and the bullpen?
Over 66.1 innings in 37 games (one start) this season, the right-hander has recorded 101 strikeouts. He ranks third in baseball with an impressive 41.9 percent strikeout rate and has become a staple in the Yankees’ bullpen.
If Green can go at least three or four scoreless innings, Girardi can then go Adam Warren — who should return from the disabled list in time — for the fourth or fifth, Tommy Kahnle in the sixth, David Robertson in the seventh, Dellin Betances in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman in the ninth.
Any of those names can go more than one inning in case one gets into trouble. Why would New York follow that blueprint? Considering they outclassed the Minnesota Twins in every facet of the game in their last four-game series at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees finished 4-2 against the apparent lead dogs for that second Wild Card spot in 2017, clinching the season series for the 14th time in the last 16 season. It was their second sweep of the Twins at Yankee Stadium in the last three seasons and they are 8-1 in their last nine home games against them.
If Yankees could utilize Green effectively while saving their 1-2 punch of Luis Severino and Sonny Gray for the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians, a run at title No. 28 is more likely.
Realistically, however, there is a huge risk taking a gamble like this in a do-or-die scenario. After all, Severino has done nothing to not earn the Yankees’ trust in a one-game elimination contest. But what about a combination of both?
Girardi can really set his already tailor-made postseason team if he is able to utilize Gray and Severino for Games 1 and 2 of the ALDS. If they can take at least one in Progressive Field before bringing it back to Yankee Stadium, where they own a 47-28 record this season, it sets themselves up for a serious run.
Shortening Severino’s outing with a little length from Green in front of one of the game’s best bullpens doesn’t necessarily hinder the odds of taking down the visiting team on Oct. 3, but it certainly creates opportunities for the Baby Bombers.
For the record, Girardi should not have this mindset going in. You can’t focus on tomorrow without taking care of today. Treat this scenario as some food for thought — the conversation was actually sparked by Brian Kenny of MLB Network on MLB Now — if the Yankees are to take an early lead on the Twins. It’s Luis Severino’s ball, no matter how enticing it will be to see the Yankees’ bullpen in the postseason.