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Bullpen Day Thrives, Yanks top Rays 4-1

Entering the last week of the regular season the Yankees opened a four-game set Monday night in the always dreaded trip to face the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees came into tonight sitting one and a half games (two in the loss column) above the Oakland A’s for home field advantage in the AL Wild Card game. Aaron Boone decided to go with a “bullpen day” tonight instead of giving the ball to a typical starter.

2018 Pinstripe Preview: Luis Severino

The career of the flamethrower that they call Luis Severino has been a rollercoaster to say the least, having a stellar rookie season, a disastrous sophomore season, and then an outstanding third season, all before his 24th birthday. It can be viewed as unfair to label Sevy’s second season as disastrous due to his young age and the normal struggles many players go through during their second season, more commonly known as the “sophomore slump.” Yet, to put it nicely, Luis Severino was one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball in the year 2016, and it pretty much was a disaster. An 0-5 record with an ERA north of eight saw Severino sent to the bullpen, where he regained his form and salvaged his stat line to an extent. More important than salvaging his stat line however, was Severino carrying his good bullpen outings over to 2017, a year that saw the Yankees get back on track and reach the ALCS for the first time since 2012, and a major contributor to that was none other than Sevy, who was the ace of the staff and had the year many hoped he would have in 2016. Now as we enter the fourth season in the career of Severino, the question will be if he takes a step forward, or back. 

Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus Getty Images

2017 Review:
Corey Kluber. Chris Sale. Luis Severino. Those were the top three candidates for the A.L Cy Young award in 2017, with Kluber winning it despite having a disappointing ALDS against the Yanks. Yet, the fact that Sevy was in the same realm as two pitchers of that caliber so early in his career was a welcome site for Yankees fan, who have not seen an absolutely dominant starting pitcher in the Bronx in quite some time. The season Sevy had was, more than anything else, a spectacle to watch, especially with the man who was supposed to be the ace giving up multiple home runs in most of his starts. Severino simply overpowered hitters last year, owning the  fastball with the highest velocity among all starting pitchers, averaging out at 97.6 MPH.

Photo Credit: Abbie Parr Getty Images

Along with throwing absolute gas, Sevy owned a 2.98 ERA, a 10.71 K/9 and a 13% swinging strike rate, and maybe more impressive than anything else for a pitcher of his caliber was his 65% first pitch strike rate. When Severino pitched last year, it was as if he was coming out of the bullpen for an inning of work rather than throwing a possible 100 pitches over seven innings, and maintaining his velocity throughout. Now it is true that Sevy almost ended the Yankees season, and my patience, the night of the Wild Card game, where he was absolutely dreadful, and needed to be saved by Chad Green. Yet, he showed his resiliency by bouncing back in Game 4 of the ALDS with seven innings of work, and really just had one bad inning in his two starts in the ALCS. Severino ended the postseason with a 5.63 ERA. 

Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez Getty Images
2018 Preview:
The 2018 season of Luis Severino will be highlighted by one question: will he remain the ace of the staff? He was not the ace last year at this time, but with Tanaka’s struggles and Sevys meteoric rise, the role of ace was Severino’s and no one else, but after Tanaka had an incredible postseason, the “Who is the Ace” debate may be back before we know it, and this time there will be three horses, as many are touting Sonny Gray to be the guy. A sub three ERA as Severino had last year may be difficult to obtain once again in the juiced ball era, yet with the Rays basically trading away all of their offensive production from the year before, it may be a bit easier to pitch within the division. Severino’s numbers taking a slight dip would be a welcome sight, as if he was anywhere near the pitcher he was last year, he’ll have a great chance at remaining the number one pitcher, and possibly earning the trust of new manager Aaron Boone to slot him as the “big game” pitcher of the staff. 

Article by: Matt Luzzi

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