By Rich Mancuso/Sports Editor
Similar to Michael Pineda there was always this conception about Yankees righthander Luis Severino. The kid can pitch and when his command is on point, as it has been in three starts this young season, there is something special. Severino to many has arrived and that showed again Tuesday night in the Bronx even though he did not get the win.
And Severino can’t get the blame in the Yankees 4-1 loss to the White Sox which snapped their early season eight-game winning streak. On the opposite side Miguel Gonzalez was that much better and had that perfect game momentum with command that the Yankees hitters could not overtake.
However, the story on this chilly night in the Bronx was Severino and his arrival that the Yankees always expected. His command again was on point with a changeup, slider and fastball that have opposing teams aware that he will be this dominant pitcher. His fastball topped 99, allowing three hits in a career high eight innings, and Severino struck out 10 and did not allow a walk.
Take this note about Severino, and for that matter what this third start means in the long run of a marathon season. He can pitch and the confidence that was skeptical at times last season is no longer a question. You add to what Pineda has accomplished in three starts and the Yankees have something special going in the first two weeks of a season that was always a question about their starting rotation.
Pitching has been a key component to this Yankees winning streak during this opening homestand and when the starters allow three runs per game, and no matter who the opposition is, well ballgames will be won. Severino retired 18 of his first 19 batters and allowed a third inning home run to Leury Garcia.
And for one thing, it is now known that Severino will not rattle on the mound after giving up the home run ball. He is becoming a pitcher that has learned to adapt and adjust.
“I feel happy. I battled and gave my team a chance,” he said. “My confidence, fastball command and slider are there. Last year I was missing a lot. I did not have command with the changeup.”
The changeup had location and velocity, and that has been a difference. The Yankees have a starter now who had 11 strikeouts in his previous start against Tampa Bay, and the 10 he recorded this night, on 107 pitches, marked the two highest single game strikeouts of his career.
And like Pineda, this only means progression and for more optimism in the Bronx.“Location of his fastball slider was great,” Girardi said. “One bad one the home run. He pitched as well tonight as we have seen. His command was good tonight, his approach” And a double play that was botched at short that went for an error in the seventh did not seem to rattle Severino.
The mistake was throwing two home run balls and one, a hanging slider that Avisail Garcia deposited into the visitor’s bullpen for three runs in the seventh. If Severino can command that fastball and slider to perfection, and there is every reason to see that becoming a reality, the home run balls won’t come as often.
The manager knows something special is developing in the Bronx. It has nothing to do with this good start to the season at home but more so because a healthy Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia, and a lefthander Jordan Montgomery are making this an interesting and you can say unexpected first two weeks on the mound.
A lot more to determine, and how long will this consistent and good pitching continue? That answer will come another time during this marathon.
But for now, the Yankees know as does Luis Severino, that he has finally arrived.
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