Is Luis Severino the Yankees’ New Ace?
It’s time to add a new name to the list of people who think Luis Severino could be the ace of the Yankees’ pitching staff: Severino himself.
According to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com, the 21-year-old right-hander recently told the YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits he thinks he is ready to take over as the Bronx Bombers’ number one starting pitcher.
After making his Major League debut on Aug. 5, 2015, Severino posted a 5-3 record with a 2.89 ERA and 56 strikeouts.
For the most part, Severino certainly looks like he has all the tools to become the next top-of-the-line hurler for the Yankees. He’s young, talented and already seems like he has a good grasp on what it takes to be a successful pitcher in the big leagues.
While I appreciate his self-confidence, I don’t think Severino will be the Yankees’ ace in 2016. That title will belong to Masahiro Tanaka.
The majority of Yankees fans, myself included, will say that Tanaka has not completely lived up to the seven-year, $155 million contract he signed in 2014 . But, he’s not that far off.
In his first two seasons in pinstripes Tanaka went 25-12. The 27-year-old righty struck out 280 batters and posted a 3.16 ERA during that span.
Those numbers are not necessarily “ace-like.” However, they are nothing to scoff at. There are plenty of teams around the Majors who would be happy to have a pitcher who puts up numbers like those.
On the other hand, there are not many teams that would line up for a pitcher as injury-prone as Tanaka. His elbow problems have been well-documented and Tanaka battled through injuries last year and in 2014.
Injuries aside, when Tanaka is healthy and on top of his game, I think he is one of baseball’s best pitchers. Tanaka performs at his peak when his splitter is devastating hitters and he has pinpoint command of the strike zone.
Despite the Yankees losing last year’s American League Wild Card Game to the Houston Astros, I felt Tanaka pitched well in his postseason debut. He only lasted five innings, but surrendered just two runs on four hits.
No one in the Yankees’ lineup could figure out Dallas Keuchel that night and Tanaka received no run support as a result. His pitching did not cost the Yankees that game.
More important than statistics, it was a change in Tanaka’s mentality last season that proved to me why he will be the Yankees’ ace in 2016.
Normally mild-mannered and reserved on the mound, Tanaka began to show flashes of emotion down the stretch last year. After a clutch strikeout he would pump his fist or let out a scream, realizing the importance of the out he just recorded.
When it mattered the most, Tanaka had the look of a pitcher who wanted the baseball in his hands. That is the mark of an ace.
Tanaka may be my pick for the Yankees’ ace in 2016, but Severino is not far off. If he can continue to develop, and I think he will, Severino has the potential to be the ace of the Yankees’ staff for a number of years.
Severino has yet to experience so much. He has not been through the grind that is a 162-game Major League season or pitched in October. However, if everything goes according to plan for the Yankees, Severino is going to experience all that and more.
Even though he thinks he is ready to be the ace in 2016, I would advise Severino to be patient. He will have his time to shine.