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Luis Severino feels ready to give Yankees his best in potential ALDS clincher

Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino at the Yankees

Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino at the Yankees workout before Game 3 of the ALDS on Sunday at Target Field. Credit: Newsday / William Perlman

MINNEAPOLIS — Luis Severino recalls well his first taste of the postseason, though the righthander at first pretended he did not.

“I don't even remember that,” he said to laughter Sunday afternoon.

Severino, of course, could never forget that Oct. 3 night in 2017 at the Stadium when, in the AL wild-card game, he was knocked out after one-third of an inning against the Twins. Replaced by Chad Green, who escaped a major jam, Severino allowed three runs and four hits, including two homers, but was bailed out by his offense in an 8-4 victory.

Remember it? Yes. Dwell on it? No.

“That was a tough game, but that was two years ago,” Severino said.

Severino, who will start Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Monday night against the Twins at Target Field with a chance to help send the Yankees to the ALCS, has had his share of postseason chances since that wild-card game.

Some have been good (winning Game 4 against the Indians in the 2017 ALDS with seven strong innings) and some have been not so good (Game 3 of last year’s ALDS against the Red Sox, in which he allowed six runs and seven hits in three innings of a 16-1 loss).

“Sevy's had good and bad in the postseason,” Aaron Boone said. “You talked about Minnesota [in 2017], but then last year, he pitched the wild-card game [four scoreless innings vs. Oakland] and pitched great for us. So I expect him to handle it.”

That Severino is in this position is somewhat of an upset. He started the season on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, suffered a significant lat strain while rehabbing the shoulder and finally made it back in September.

Severino made three starts before the end of the regular season, going 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA and striking out 17 in 12 innings. There had been talk about him being a bullpen weapon come October, but the Yankees liked enough of what they saw to give him the ball in a potential clincher.

“It doesn’t give you a lot of information,” pitching coach Larry Rothschild said of the three starts, “but it’s enough that you see the ability to have the velocity and also spin the baseball and be able to change speeds. So that’s what you look for.”

Rothschild and Boone mentioned Severino’s overall health as standing out from the time doctors cleared him to resume throwing from a mound in August.  

“He's really looked good going back from the first time he got on the mound and making his way back in a side session and feel like he progressed how we would have hoped,” Boone said. “He wasn't rushed and kept bouncing back to how we would have hoped. Then really from his first start in the big leagues [Sept. 17], felt like his delivery was good, felt like the stuff was good, and overall the command was good. Feel like he's ready to roll and he gives us a really good chance every time we hand him the ball.”

A couple of days before making that Sept. 17 start against the Angels, Severino predicted Yankees fans would see the same “electric guy” they’d gotten used to seeing. He feels the same going into Monday, his confidence as high as ever.

“I think I am [at] my best,” he said Sunday. “I had three outings before this, so that's [similar to what] I do in spring training before I head into the season. So I think that's good enough to be at my best.”

Luis Severino’s regular-season success has failed to carry over to his postseason starts. His numbers:

STARTS 6

W-L 1-2

INNINGS 23

HITS 22

WALKS 14

RUNS 16

HRs 5

ERA 6.26

WHIP 1.565

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