3 Yankees peaking at right time as spring training ends
By Adam Weinrib
Spring Training wins, losses and statistics do not matter whatsoever -- unless a player is performing extremely poorly or extremely well. Then, they're the fuel to our preseason fire.
Nobody wants to stand out like a sore thumb, which is why a .500 spring is basically the best-case fan scenario. Lose too many games, and unnecessary panic ensues. Win too many, and you can't help but look at the record cockeyed, going, "Hmm...feels like we're wasting these." It's the same with offensive and pitching performances. Hit .290, and everyone's satisfied. Hit .423 with seven bombs, and it's like ... OK, you're 2022 Kyle Higashioka.
The best-case scenario is a spring that peaks at the right time, about a week before the season is set to start, which engenders confidence in a hot Opening Week. If you're going to hit spring bombs or rack up March strikeouts, it's best to do so with a clear pathway to Opening Day, when these things start to count.
These three Yankees have momentum headed into the regular season. Hopefully, it translates.
3 Yankees heating up as Opening Day approaches
Luis Severino, RHP
Fans have been waiting for Luis Severino to arrive all spring long, as the right-hander searched for ways to make his slider not "suck" (his words, not ours). With big-ticket offseason addition Carlos Rodón out with a forearm strain and right-hander Frankie Montas out for the better part of the season, the pressure was ratcheted up on Severino, Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes to stay healthy and effective.
The early results on Sevy? Not so great. The fastball velocity was there. The offspeed stuff was getting tarred and feather; he followed up an 8.22 ERA 2022 camp with a 10.63 mark in his first four starts of 2023. Not great, Bob! Not great for anyone of any pedigree.
Luckily, Severino recovered in his fifth outing, finally pairing his 97-98 MPH fastball with effective changeups and breaker, striking out nine in four impressive innings. And yes, he had to shake off a leadoff home run and two-out RBI double in the first just to get there.
Is it "baby steps" to be impressed by a nine-K outing of no significance against the Tigers? Sure. But it's a hell of a lot better than watching your No. 3 starter in a contract year getting squared up time and again. One more whiff-filled start and we'll be sold.