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Former starter Luis Severino finding niche in bullpen

New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino delivers

New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the sixth inning of an MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Yankees still see Luis Severino as a starter in the future. Severino does, too.

But the 23-year-old righthander continues to shine in his new role out of the bullpen. After pitching 2 1⁄3 scoreless innings Sunday, he has not allowed an earned run in 16 2⁄3 innings and seven appearances as a reliever. Hitters have gone 4-for-54 against him.

“It should give him confidence,” manager Joe Girardi said.

Severino, 0-8 with an 8.58 ERA earlier this season as a starter before losing his rotation spot, entered with two outs and the bases empty in the sixth Sunday and struck out Mikie Mahtook looking. He escaped a first-and-third, one-out jam in the seventh, getting Kevin Kiermaier to foul out with two outs and the bases loaded, and pitched a perfect eighth.

“Out of the bullpen, I think I’m learning a lot,” Severino said. “Don’t let the pressure get to my head.”

Additionally, his command has been better. “I’m just controlling my pitches and hitting the glove,” he said. “The only thing I’m doing now that I wasn’t doing earlier is hitting my spots.”

Castro sits

Second baseman Starlin Castro received a rare day off, replaced by Ronald Torreyes.

“He’s played more than anyone on our club. He’s played the last nine days in a row,” Girardi said. “We felt that he needed a day off, and hopefully we can run him out the next seven in this long stretch.”

Castro, who has appeared in 140 of the Yankees’ 142 games, pinch hit for Torreyes with one on and two outs in the seventh and reached on an error before Brett Gardner’s RBI single made it 4-2.

Slumping Didi

Didi Gregorius went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, extending his recent skid to 3-for-34 with eight strikeouts. Gregorius is 5-for-44 in his last 11 games, dropping his average from .288 to .273.

New York Sports