In not so breaking news, Yankees manager Aaron Boone officially named 24-year-old right-hander Luis Severino as opening day starter.
It should go without saying that a pitcher coming off a season in which he finished third in the Cy Young balloting even needs such a proclamation, but that’s the nature of the beast when you’re a member of the Yankees.
So prior to the Yanks dropping Saturday’s contest to the Tigers, 9-3, Luis Severino was tabbed to start game one of 162 against the Blue Jays in Toronto on March 29.
Manager Aaron Boone spoke to the NY Daily News about his ace, Severino.
"“We feel like it’s his time for it,” Boone said. “With what he was able to do last year, we feel like he’s in a really good place now. We just felt like now is the time for him to take on that role and we think he’s ready for it. I’m looking forward to seeing him grow in his role as one of the aces of this staff.”"
Coming off an utter-spectacular 2017 season, Severino went 14-6 (ninth most wins in AL) with a 2.98 ERA and 1.040 WHIP while striking out 230 batters in 193.1 innings pitched (10.7 SO/9).
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With a blazing fastball, devastating slider and rediscovered changeup (courtesy of some help from Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez), Severino finally began to fulfill his potential and procure his spot atop the Yankees’ rotation.
After pitching a combined 209.1 innings between the regular and Postseason in ’17 (56 more than the previous season), the club has taken it easy on its ace this spring, as Sevvy has only tossed 3.1 frames.
Upon learning of Boone’s designation, Severino made it clear he is more than up to the challenge.
"“My body feels great, and my arm does too,” he said recently. “I’m ready for the challenge.”"
Perhaps the only reason there was any question as to why Severino wouldn’t get the ball to begin the season was because Masahiro Tanaka had started the past three openers.
Though Tanaka was dominant in three playoff starts, the 35 long balls he allowed last season were a career worst. Unfortunately, Tanaka has yet to build off of last October’s success.
After allowing two homers in the third inning of Saturday’s Grapefruit League affair, Tanaka’s ERA is now a robust 11.25. Luckily, I’ve been reminded it’s ONLY Spring Training. Better to be poor now rather than March 30, when he takes the hill as the Yanks’ No. 2.
Following Severino and Tanaka will be veteran southpaw CC Sabathia, then Sonny Gray and lastly Jordan Montgomery. Monty will start the Yanks’ home opener against the Rays on April 2.
Talk of pressure should no longer dictate how and when the Yankees use Severino. He’s the club’s No. 1 and will be treated as so — which means taking the ball opposite each club’s best shooter, especially in the highest of pressure situations.