Yankees playoff preview: Severino, Verlander bring heat to Game 2

New York Yankees hurler Luis Severino (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
New York Yankees hurler Luis Severino (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The New York Yankees hope to even the series Saturday after losing Game 1 of the ALCS.

Game 1 featured two finesse pitchers in Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees and Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros. That won’t be the case in Game 2, however, as Luis Severino and Justin Verlander are expected to throw gas from the mound.

Severino’s 97.8 mph average fastball velocity topped FanGraphs’ leaderboard for all Major League starters in 2017. Verlander ranked eighth on that list, averaging 95.6 mph.

This has been a breakout season for the Yankees’ 23-year-old right-hander. Questions persisted whether Severino was fit for the rotation after losing eight of 11 starts with a bloated 8.50 ERA in ’16. Severino transformed his label from “unknown” to “ace” in one year’s time, with his impressive work this season: 2.98 ERA, 14 wins and 230 strikeouts in 31 starts.

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Meanwhile, Verlander anchored the Astros’ rotation after being traded from the Detroit Tigers in August. Houston’s right-hander won all five starts with his new club, posted a microscopic 1.06 ERA and whiffed 43 batters.

Severino will come at the Astros lineup with a simple yet effective arsenal of blazing fastballs, tight sliders and sinking changeups. Verlander’s repertoire is more diverse, featuring four-seam and two-seam fastballs, wipe-out sliders, looping curveballs and the occasional changeup.

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Verlander has pitched effectively in two appearances this postseason. Severino was clobbered in the wild-card game, but responded in dominant fashion in the ALDS with seven strong innings. Watch these two powerful arms square off in Game 2 at 4 p.m. ET on Fox.