No, this doesn’t mean someone other than Luis Severino would start a prospective American League wild-card game.
The Yankees announced Tuesday that the 23-year-old ace will start Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Twins instead of Masahiro Tanaka.
Severino had been slated to start Friday in Toronto, which would have had him in line to start the wild-card game Oct. 3 on five days’ rest. But Joe Girardi, with his team entering Tuesday three games behind the first-place Red Sox, isn’t quite ready to plan that far ahead.
“It allows for him to start three more times if needed,” Girardi said. “If he was to start on Friday, he could have went Friday and (the following) Wednesday and we would not have been able to start him the following Sunday if it is needed. Our goal is still to win the division. We have clinched nothing at this point, so it gives us the ability to start him three more times.”
In other words, Severino, 13-6 with a 2.93 ERA, including 8-2, 2.09 in the second half, potentially could start the last game of the regular season Oct. 1 if the division title or a playoff spot were on the line. But the more likely scenario is that the Yankees’ situation will clarify itself well before then, and the rotation could be manipulated again to line up Severino for the wild-card game.
“We can adjust things because we have six starters,” Girardi said.
Severino said his choice would have been to pitch Wednesday anyway because had he taken the mound Friday he would have done so on six days’ rest, which is too much from his perspective.
“If I had to choose, I’d choose tomorrow,” said Severino, who doesn’t like too much rest between starts. “I like to pitch with five days. I can control my fastball (better). I feel like I try to overthrow if I have more than five days.”
Severino’s hope, and the Yankees’ too, would be for the righthander to start Game 1 of a Division Series rather than a wild-card contest. No team wants to play in a one-and-done if it can avoid it. But if that’s the case, Severino is looking forward to starting in that kind of pressure cauldron.
“I’ll be ready,” he said. “My first year we went to the wild-card game (against Houston). I didn’t pitch, I was in the bullpen. If they give me the ball, I’ll be more than happy to pitch.”
If the standings remain as they are, the Yankees will host the Twins Oct. 3. The Angels entered Tuesday 1½ games behind the Twins for the second wild card. Severino struggled June 22 against the Angels, allowing allowed five earned runs in six innings in a 10-5 loss at the Stadium.
When asked about having a preference between the Twins or Angels, Severino said: “It doesn’t matter for me. I’ve never faced the Twins, so I don’t know how they hit, and I’ve faced the Angels. But it doesn’t matter. Either team, I’m going to do my best.”
Could facing the Twins Wednesday provide an advantage if he has to face them two weeks later?
“Yeah, of course,” Severino said. “I can see their weaknesses and face other hitters and put (together) a plan. See what happens.”