Despite his well-documented second-half struggles, Luis Severino may have just re-inserted himself into the Wild Card picture.
We all know the story of New York Yankees pitcher Luis Severino‘s season. On July 1, he led the American League with a 1.98 ERA and was arguably the AL Cy Young favorite. Everything went downhill after that, as Severino’s ERA had inflated to 3.46 before his Wednesday start against the Boston Red Sox.
This outing would be an important one for the young right-hander, as the Yankees had been treating September as an audition for who would get the ball to start the Wild Card game. Severino needed to step up, and boy did he ever.
The 24-year-old pitched a gem against the best offense in baseball, allowing one run in seven strong innings. He struck out six — including AL MVP frontrunner Mookie Betts twice — and walked just one. He appeared to get his moxie back too, fist-pumping and showing emotion after recording a few big outs. For a pitcher whose struggles have mostly been attributed to a lack of confidence, an outing like this can go a long, long way.
Now, just two weeks out from the AL Wild Card Game, Yankees manager Aaron Boone has an even tougher decision to make.
Severino had gradually removed himself from the picture with his second-half tumble, as the likes of Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ emerged as favorites. Tanaka has been particularly unhittable of late, as he’s pitched to a miniscule 0.43 ERA with 24 strikeouts in his last three starts.
Happ has been an anchor in the rotation since he first put on the pinstripes, posting a 6-0 record with a 2.39 ERA. He’s dominated the Red Sox in his career, however, so Aaron Boone may be enticed to save him for a two-start role in a potential ALDS matchup with Boston.
However, on the heels of this dominant performance from Severino, Boone might be tempted by the tantalizing upside of his troubled ace.
But when considering Severino’s numerous blow-ups over the last two months — and in last year’s Wild Card game — is the upside worth it?