Luis Severino vs. Jacob deGrom.
It’s as close to a wild-card game scenario as the Yankees are going to face between now and October. One game. Our ace vs. your ace.
Except the Yankees were an ace short in the rainout-created “series” against the Mets on Monday night at Yankee Stadium.
The patient Yankees are great at playing the long game. But it’s time to get really, really worried about the slumping Severino, who allowed four runs in just four innings in the Mets’ 8-5 victory.
Severino needed 98 pitches to get 12 outs. Against the Mets. What’s going to happen if he has to face an AL playoff team when there is no tomorrow?
The Yankees beat the Twins in last year’s wild-card game even though Severino only lasted one-third of an inning in his first postseason start. It would be foolhardy to expect that kind of comeback to happen again.
The trouble for Severino began immediately when leadoff man Amed Rosario homered to right (one of five by the Mets on the night). Brandon Nimmo followed with a double and scored three batters later on Jeff McNeil’s solid single to center to put the Yankees in a 2-0 hole against deGrom, who came in with a 1.77 ERA.
Severino’s only 1-2-3 inning was the third. The Yankees tied the game in the bottom half. It took two batters for Severino to lose the tie on Austin Jackson’s single and Jose Bautista’s two-run homer to right.
Severino gave up seven hits, walked one and struck out six. Velocity wasn’t the problem. Hitability was.
“We saw some good velocity numbers,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Just getting that crispness back -- where that fastball has that ride, that pop at the end – didn’t seem like he really had that tonight.”
When Severino is at his best, he can dominate even the best lineups. He threw 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Red Sox on July 1 to lower his ERA to 1.98. That’s deGrom territory.
Since then, Severino is 2-4 with a 7.50 ERA in seven outings. That’s Sonny Gray territory. In his last 36 innings, Severino has allowed 30 earned runs on 54 hits. Eleven of those hits have been home runs. He had given up four home runs in 118 1/3 innings through July 1.
After that 11-1 win on July 1, the Yankees led the Red Sox by percentage points in the division. Now they trail Boston by 10 games. All that’s left for the Yankees is maintaining their wild-card lead and getting ready to play that winner-take-all game against another team’s ace.
On Monday, the Yankees put CC Sabathia on the 10-day disabled list to rest his balky right knee after he threw six shutout innings in a win over Texas on Sunday.
The Red Sox recently put ace Chris Sale on the DL with shoulder irritation. He came off after a 15-day break and struck out 12 batters in five shutout innings against the Orioles.
See where we’re going? Even if Severino is not injured, he still has worked a ton of innings this season and last. Perhaps the Yankees would be best served by creating a reason to give Severino a couple of starts off. Call it a “tired arm” and let him lounge for a bit.
Boone said it’s something the Yankees would consider, but added: “Is it best to just kind of power through?”
Severino doesn’t want to get skipped.
“I’m not tired,” he said. “I’m definitely not tired. I just need to keep working.”
Whatever the answer, if Severino doesn’t get straightened out, expect to see J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka or even Lance Lynn start the wild-card playoff. October is no time to play the long game. Your ace is whoever is pitching the best and right now that is definitely not Severino.