After an up and down career in October, New York Yankees ace Luis Severino deserves a clean slate.
The 25-year-old Dominican righty has had a roller coaster of a season. Shoulder and lat injuries limited him to three starts in 2019, in which he went 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA. Short regular season aside, he is clearly the future of the Yankees’ pitching rotation and should look forward to coming back at full strength in 2020.
That is, he should once he gets the Yankees as deep into the playoffs as possible. Monday marks Game 3 of the Yankees’ American League Division Series matchup with the Minnesota Twins, and the Bronx Bombers enter the game with a 2-0 series lead.
And who is taking the mound for the Yankees? None other than Severino, of course. Short though his season was, he pitched well enough to earn the trust of manager Aaron Boone and the coaching staff in a potential series clincher.
Now, he just needs to forget certain October performances of years past and enter his start with a clean slate.
A fall to forget
Nobody wants to talk about Luis Severino’s postseason numbers, but we have to for the sake of this piece. To be blunt, they aren’t good. At all.
Severino is 42-26 with a 3.46 ERA for his career. In an era where more and more offense is being produced on the field, those are solid numbers.
His postseason numbers, meanwhile, read more like what Sam Malone’s would have been on his worst day. Severino has made six postseason starts and is 1-2 with a 6.26 ERA.
Granted, those numbers require context. Severino gave up three runs in the 2017 AL Wild Card Game and didn’t get out of the first inning. The Boston Red Sox gobbled up his fastball like White Castle sliders in last year’s ALDS, torching him for six runs on seven hits in just three innings.
However, these numbers too require further context. Take those starts out of the equation, and Severino’s ERA drops to 3.28.
Not only that, but there are a number of reasons as to why Luis Severino struggled in those two awful starts. In 2017, the vibe of a single-elimination game combined with a hot Yankee Stadium crowd probably got to him. Against Boston, there was clearly a miscommunication over how long he actually had to get ready before taking the mound.
Moreover, this sets the stage for Severino to fully wipe the slate clean in Game 3. He’s no slouch on the road in October, having gone 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two starts versus the Houston Astros in the 2017 ALCS.
Given how the Yankees only scored two runs across both of Severino’s games, his efforts need to be recognized. I mean, come on. He went toe to toe with Justin Verlander in Game 2 of that series and allowed a single run in four innings of work.
This brings the conversation to Target Field, where the Yankees’ pitching staff was seriously overtaxed back in July. New York’s starters posted a horrific 17.47 ERA in this series, and the Yankees still won two of three games.
The point is demons need exorcising and Luis Severino is Father Merrin. Fortunately, for the Yankees and their fans, the numbers are in their favor.
Luis Severino took the loss in his sole appearance in Minnesota, but also posted a 1.59 ERA for the game. More importantly, the Yankees scored a single run in the same game and provided their ace with little support. There’s only so much a pitcher can do if his lineup doesn’t score runs accordingly.
This is more than an opportunity not only for the Yankees to advance to their second ALCS in three years, but for Luis Severino to prove he can hang in October.
And even if the Ghost of Octobers Past shows up and Severino struggles, it isn’t the end of the world. New York still has home-field advantage in the series and will have two more chances to clinch past Game 3, if necessary.
But if anyone needs a strong Game 3, it’s Luis Severino. He has worked too hard and been out too long to have another October clunker, a la Clayton Kershaw c. 2014. He deserves an outing where he takes the mound, ignores the crowd, and looks like a legitimate playoff ace.
Because after all this time, and with how well Games 1 and 2 went, doesn’t Luis Severino deserve it?
I suppose only time will tell, so buckle up.