Yankees Luis Severino Let his Body Do the Talking

Apr 13, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 13, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports /

Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino used to look like an Ace. His first start of 2017 was rough, but there were some numbers that suggested his dominance in his second start. But, even before the end of his last start, Severino made it clear he was ready to be great again. And all you had to do to read the message was be fluent in body language.

The Yankees struggled in the first week of the season, especially the starting pitching. CC was good but pitched only five innings, Pineda melted down and could not get out of the fourth, and Tanaka was even worse than that. Severino might not have been the worst of the bunch, but his line was neither pretty nor encouraging.

When Luis stepped off the mound against the Baltimore Orioles after only five innings, he had given up four earned runs. And other numbers help tell an even worse story. He also gave up more hits than innings pitched (6/5), and one of those was a home run.

One encouraging chapter in the narrative is that he struck out six while only walking one. But anytime your ERA for a game is 7.20; the final chapter reads failure.

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But even that does not tell the whole story. Because, if you watched him pitch, he added an appendix, a part of the story that never shows up in the box score; it’s called the Body Language Index (BLI).

Severino’s successes and struggles are well known, most of all to Luis Severino. He knew coming into Spring Training he had a lot to prove. And his arc over the course of the pre-season showed a man going from hopeful to confident.

He likewise knew that all he had done was get a chance to start for the 2017 Yankees.

And, just like last year, he was going to have to prove himself at the big league level or lose that job. So he repeated his entire spring training arc in his first start and got ready to dominate in his second.

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Don’t believe me? Go back and watch the tape. Pay strict attention to his BLI. Severino entered the game clearly nervous and uptight. The way he walked, the way he carried himself, even his countenance betrayed the inner struggle between Hope and Fear. Am I the Severino of 2015, or 2016? How good am I, really? What is about to happen: will I slay my opponent or will he conquer me?

He is both David and Goliath.

Video Courtesy of the YES Network

And then he started pitching…and getting guys out. He controlled his fastball and trusted his change-up. Baltimore got one across in the 1st but, after that, the innings un-scored upon began to pile up. The Yankees took the lead in the third and, by the fourth, he looked a different man.

You can see his confidence and swagger have returned. And even though he gave up three runs in the fifth, he still left the game with the lead. Any concerns about a hangover were quelled when he finished the inning instead of melting down. He walked off the field carrying Goliath’s severed head.

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So it was no surprise that Luis went out and dominated on Thursday night; his BLI predicted it. And that stat proved to be more accurate than his ERA or hits per inning. It was so accurate that it predicted he would pitch seven complete innings and strikeout 11…and that’s exactly what he did.

When he walked off the mound, he had given up only two runs and lowered his ERA to 4.50. I haven’t looked up his BLI predictive for his next start, but I have to believe it is outstanding.

No one knows how Luis Severino will do this year, least of all Luis Severino. All we do know is he had one bad start and one great one. But we also know that Severino has regained the look and swagger of El Primo. There is renewed hope in Yankees Universe that he can become the Ace he once looked to be.

Now we just have to keep him away from Bathsheba.