SEATTLE — It has reached this point in the Yankees clubhouse when Luis Severino is pitching.
Regardless of the opposing pitcher, the overwhelming feeling is something along these lines: We’ll take our guy.
“When he’s on the mound, it doesn’t really matter who’s on the mound on the other side, we feel confident in the job that he’s going to do,” Brett Gardner said. “Every time Sevy pitches, we feel good about our chances.”
Severino, still throwing triple digits late and registering the fastest pitch by a starter this season (101.2 mph), pitched seven shutout innings in Thursday night’s 4-1 victory over the Mariners, outdueling Felix Hernandez.
That outing by Severino ( 6-4, 3.21 ERA) occurred five days after he nearly matched Red Sox ace Chris Sale, allowing one run in seven innings. The 23-year-old, a first time All-Star, struck out six and walked one, giving him 136 strikeouts — which ranks him third in the AL — and 30 walks in 120 2⁄3 innings.
It seems Severino is turning into the front-line starter the Yankees always envisioned him to be when they signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2012.
“His stuff is as good as anybody’s in the game,” Chase Headley said before last night’s game. “You really feel like he’s matured, like he’s found that consistency you look for from a top-end pitcher. It’s what separates a No. 3 from a ‘1.’ ”
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild highlighted several aspects of Severino’s performance, things not present a year ago when he lost his rotation job by mid-May and finished the season in the bullpen.
First, there was the separation between his rapidly improving changeup and fastball, as high as 20 miles per hour.
“During the course of the season, he’s come a long way,” Rothschild said. “He’s been able to throttle it back when he needs to. Like last night, he threw a couple [changeups] 80, 81. Just his feel for what he needs to do, it gets better and better.”
Then there was the work Severino did with runners on base. He held the Mariners to 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, stranding nine. Seven of those were left on base in the first four innings.
“It’s a battle to get runs off of him,” Rothschild said. “He gets in trouble and he’ll dial it up. Early in that game there were some balls that just found holes, but he managed to battle through it pretty well and that’s something for a young pitcher that’s important.”
Joe Girardi noted that Severino still hit 100 mph several times in the seventh inning. It has been a constant in most of his best outings this season.
“The one thing I’ve noticed about Sevy this year is his stuff really doesn’t drop off a whole lot,” Girardi said. “You don’t see a loss in velocity as he gets tired. Sometimes that last inning is the inning he throws the hardest. It really contributes to his success because it doesn’t fall off and his location continues to be good. I think his stuff just continues to improve and I’m sure his confidence does, too.”
That, more than anything, impressed Mariners manager Scott Servais.
“Severino was as good as we’ve seen all year,” Servais told reporters. “We’ve had some well-pitched games against us, but just the stuff that he fired out there, you don’t see guys carry the velocity that late in the ballgame.”