CHICAGO — It will be another test for Luis Severino, one Joe Girardi believes the young righthander is up for.
The 23-year-old will get the ball Sunday night on national television against the defending World Series champion Cubs and accomplished lefty Jon Lester.
Girardi said Severino is “much more equipped” to handle that kind of pressure than he was a season ago, when the righthander lost his rotation spot by mid-May.
“Just going to Boston and pitching that game there probably helped him,” Girardi said.
Severino had his best outing of the season two starts ago at Fenway Park, throwing seven shutout innings in a 3-1 victory. Though he wasn’t as good in his next outing — he allowed five runs in 5 1⁄3 innings in a 7-1 loss to the Blue Jays last Monday night to drop him to 2-2, 3.86 — Severino will bring mostly impressive totals into Sunday night. He has struck out 36 and walked six.
“Struggles can really help a player grow up a lot,” Girardi said, alluding to last season. “And I think it really helped him to really understand what he needs to do to be successful.”
Think Holliday at first
Though DH Matt Holliday didn’t pick up a glove during spring training, Girardi said he’s leaning toward playing him at first base in Sunday night’s series finale.
“You want his bat in the lineup,” Girardi said.
Holliday started taking grounders at first earlier in the week.
Ellsbury ready for return
Jacoby Ellsbury, who was not in the starting lineup for the fourth straight game Saturday night with a bruised nerve in his left elbow, expects to be back in the starting lineup Sunday night.
“Shooting for tomorrow,” he said before taking the field to throw and go through a full round of batting practice. “Feeling a lot better today [compared to] yesterday.”
Ellsbury, who hurt the elbow when he crashed into the centerfield wall while making a catch Monday night against Toronto, pinch hit in Friday’s 3-2 comeback victory, drawing a two-out walk in the ninth inning.
“I want him to pick it up today and throw a little bit more,” Girardi said. “He feels substantially better today than yesterday, so I would think he’ll be a full player tomorrow.”
Shreve circa 2015?
Opposing team scouts who cover Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate, raved about Chasen Shreve’s performance in the first month.
“Slider looks the way it did two years ago,” one scout said. Shreve was one of the best relievers in baseball in 2015 and had a 1.86 ERA as late as Sept. 5 before staggering down the stretch.
Shreve, who struck out one and walked one in Friday’s victory, his first appearance since being recalled Tuesday, said his stuff feels as good as, if not better than, two seasons ago.
“Slider feels great, splitter feels really good,” said Shreve, noting that the latter pitch in particular pleased him. “I feel that [past struggles] are in the past and I’m ready to do really well.”