Yankees: Why Luis Severino needs to out-pitch Corey Kluber

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Don’t look now, but the Yankees are only 2.5 games back of the first place Red Sox. With the division lead in sight, 23-year-old Luis Severino will need to better AL CY Young candidate Corey Kluber.

Monday night begins an all-important three game series for the Yankees as they face off against the AL Central leading Cleveland Indians. Taking the mound is a pair electric right-handers in Corey Kluber and Luis Severino.

Kluber, who is coming off his first loss since July 4th, still managed to toss 7.2 innings against the Red Sox, allowing two earned runs on four hits while striking out 12 batters. On the season, Kluber is now 12-4 with an AL best 2.65 ERA.

This type of performance is nothing new for the 31-year-old “Klubot,” as the Alabama native has now rung up 200 batters in each of the past four seasons.

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Considering that Kluber is 4-1 with a 1.71 ERA against the Yanks in his career — holding the Bombers to a .171 batting average during that time — scoring runs will certainly come at a premium.

Regardless, Severino, the man whom many believe has dethroned Masahiro Tanaka as the Yankees’ staff ace, needs to go pitch for pitch with Kluber, the 2014 AL Cy Young winner. It’s the only way he’ll convince manager Joe Girardi that he’s worthy of taking the ball in Game 1 of a playoff series. We all know by now, that nine times out of 10 Girardi will side with a veteran because it’s what he’s most comfortable with.

In his eight starts since the All-Star break, Sevvy is a 6-1 with a 2.15 ERA — making him 11-5 with a 3.10 ERA and 183 punch outs in 156.2 innings pitched this season.

Even still, for a guy who is a 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA versus the Indians in three career starts, Sevvy told ESPN.com he isn’t worthy of the staff ace moniker just yet.

"“I don’t say, ‘I’m the ace,’” Severino said. “We have veteran guys here, like CC, like Tanaka. The progress I have made, I’m happy about that. I had a terrible year last year.”"

In their past 13 games, the Yankees are 9-4 and still hold a 3.5 game lead in the AL Wild Card standings. With the recent return of Starlin Castro and Greg Bird from the disabled list, there’s no reason the Bombers can’t keep their eye on the prize — winning their division and avoiding the ill-fated one-game play-in.

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Well on pace to exceed 200 innings pitched, the Yankees will lean on the freshest arm in their rotation to give them a glimpse of what the possible return of October baseball to the Bronx may very well look like in the near future. No pressure, Sevvy.