Yankees manager Aaron Boone was direct in discussing his expectations for Luis Severino after the righthander struggled against the Red Sox last week.
“Look,” Boone said before Monday night’s game against the Marlins, “when we give Luis the ball, we expect good things.”
Boone wasn’t disappointed. Severino blanked the Marlins for six innings, allowing one hit and one walk and striking out eight in a 12-1 victory at the Stadium.
Severino allowed five runs, eight hits and three walks in five innings in a 14-1 loss in Boston last Tuesday, but this time he looked like the pitcher who finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting last season.
The righthander struck out four of the first six batters he faced and didn’t allow a hit until Miguel Rojas’ double leading off the fourth. His slider, which Boone said wasn’t great against Boston, was the final pitch in four of his eight strikeouts, with the other four punchouts coming on fastballs of at least 98 mph.
“It’s just so easy the way it almost looks like he’s playing catch and you look up and it’s 98, 99,” Boone said.
Said Severino: “Me and Gary [Sanchez], we have a good connection, so he knows every time we need a pitch what pitch I want to throw.”
Severino (3-1, 2.63 ERA) retired the final nine Marlins he faced after Rojas’ double as his WHIP dropped to 0.96. Excluding his start against the Red Sox, Severino has allowed only two runs in 19 innings this year.
“[Bench coach] Josh Bard and I had said at one point it’s kind of like facing the closer three times around,” Boone said. “It’s just so easy the way he’s able to create such electric stuff but look like he’s not really working that hard to do it.”
Even in the Boston loss, Boone said there were positives in how Severino pushed through five innings, allowing one run in his final three frames.
“I thought for struggling there in those first few innings,” Boone said of the Boston start before Monday night’s game, “I thought he rallied a little bit and was at least able to give us five innings when he wasn’t at his best on kind of a crummy night, so I would expect him to go out there and be on top of his game tonight.”
With the Yankees set to play 20 games in 21 days, starting with Monday’s win, Boone stressed the importance of Severino getting back to pitching deep into games. Dating to last season, he has thrown quality starts in nine of his last 12 starts, including two of his four outings this season.
“We needed to get a win,” Severino said, “and when the team gets you three or four runs, I got a big lead so I just need to go out there and do my job.”