ARLINGTON, Texas — Luis Severino features a fastball that can reach 100 mph and a filthy slider, two pitches that have allowed him to be recognized as one the best pitchers in the American League at the age of 24.
And the ace shook his head late Monday afternoon when contemplating the Rangers starter that night, Bartolo Colon, who features none of those pitches but is still recording outs in the big leagues at the age of 44 (45 on Thursday).
But first Severino smiled and laughed, as many do when asked what, pitcher to pitcher, he respects the most about Colon.
“He’s been pitching for a 100 [expletive] years, that’s the biggest thing,” he said.
Severino, who like Colon is from the Dominican Republic, quickly returned to being serious, his respect level apparent.
“I mean, he’s amazing, I don’t know how he does it,” Severino said. “He still throws 94, 93 [mph]. Has that huge sinker. Just watching him pitch . . . I don’t know how he does it but just seeing him on the mound makes me very happy.”
Colon came into Monday 2-1 with a 2.82 ERA in nine games, seven starts. In his most recent outing last Wednesday against the Mariners the righthander threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings.
But Colon, the active leader in wins with 242, has rarely pitched well against the Yankees in his career, 6-9 with a 6.11 ERA in 20 career starts and one relief appearance.
And Monday night followed that script as Colon allowed six runs and eight hits, including four homers, over 5 1/3 innings. Two of the homers came off the bat of Gleyber Torres, who was less than four months old when Colon made his big-league debut April 4, 1997 with Cleveland. Aaron Judge and Neil Walker also went deep as the Yankees built an 8-4 lead into the sixth.
Brett Gardner led off the game by cracking a 2-and-2 fastball to left-center for a double, improving him to 6-for-19 with two doubles in his career vs. Colon. Judge’s groundout to short moved Gardner to third. Colon struck out Giancarlo Stanton swinging at a 93 mph fastball and got out of the inning when Didi Gregorius lined a 94-mph fastball to center, which dropped the shortstop to 1 for his last 46.
Gary Sanchez led off the second with a single and, after Aaron Hicks and Tyler Austin made outs, Walker blooped an RBI double to left, improving the veteran to 5-for-14 in his career against Colon. Torres then jumped on a 0-and-1 87-mph fastball and hammered it an estimated 418 feet to left-center, his fifth homer making it 3-0.
Walker, whose first homer as a Yankee reached the second deck in the fourth, was teammates with Colon in 2016 with the Mets.
“I’ve played against him so many years and I’ve played behind him,” Walker said before the game. “The one thing you know about Bart is he knows how to pitch, he knows how to get outs, he knows how to fill up the strike zone. He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes. Whether he’s topping out at 90 or 84, he knows how to get outs.”
Except not as well against the Yankees.
Torres rifled one an estimated 425 feet to center with one out in the sixth, giving the Yankees a 6-4 lead and ending Colon’s night.
Aaron Boone, who turned 45 in March, recalled facing Colon as a flame-throwing prospect and later in the big leagues (Boone went 5-for-15 against Colon).
“I came up against Bartolo, we played against each other all the way through the minor leagues when he was with Cleveland and I was with Cincinnati,” Boone said. “So I’ve seen him go from that guy who you faced throwing 100 to now being a guy that is able to move it around. It just shows you if you have really good fastball command you can survive in this game.”
Age of the Yankees’ starting lineup Monday night against Bartolo Colon when the soon-to-be 45-year-old made his MLB debut on April 4, 1997:
Brett Gardner 13
Aaron Judge 4
Giancarlo Stanton 7
Didi Gregorius 7
Gary Sanchez 4
Aaron Hicks 7
Tyler Austin 5
Neil Walker 11
Gleyber Torres 3 months
Source: YES Network