The New York Yankees face off against the Oakland Athletics in their much-anticipated wild card game to decide who will match up with the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS. The Yankees will have home field advantage over the A’s. This Tuesday afternoon, they announced they will be going with Luis Severino to start the ball game against A’s pitcher Liam Hendriks.
Daniel Dashefsky: A few months ago, hearing that Luis Severino would be starting in a potential wild card game would be a no-brainer.
With a 2.12 ERA, the second best in the major league, Severino fully deserved to be an all-star, and he was. At that point, many believed this would be his Cy Young year. But, after the all-star break, Severino began to show inconsistencies in his performances. His slider began to falter and so did his ERA. After starting 13-2 for the season, since July 7, Severino has gone 6-6 with his ERA skyrocketing to 3.58 at one point. On Sept. 4, he pitched against the Athletics and gave up four runs in two innings. Questions of him tipping pitches have been risen as well as the consistent trouble he faces when playing against great teams.Last wild card game, former manager Joe Girardi trusted Severino to start the wild card game against the Minnesota Twins. In his start, Severino did not last more than one inning, giving up three runs and only getting one out. He was yanked for a relief pitcher, and luckily, the Yankees were able to bail him out the next inning. But, who is to tell if the Yankees’ bats will be hot tomorrow night? What the Yankees need is a consistent and reliable pitcher, and as of right now, Severino is not that man.
The Yankees should be looking to start J.A. Happ, their newly acquired starting pitcher from the Blue Jays. Happ has been phenomenal in his short tenure with the Yankees. Contrary to Severino, Happ was able to get the win against the Athletics in September. In his last 15 games, he is 10-3 with an ERA of 3.68. I think Happ would have given a good five, maybe six, solid innings, and then Aaron Boone would go to the bullpen to close. The Yankees definitely want to avoid another situation like last year, so the fact that they are not going to Happ, who has been extremely solid, is shocking.
Michael Logan: Happ is a nice pitcher. However, he is not the guy to whom you entrust your entire team’s season. Severino is the Yankees’ best pitcher with no argument. When he is at his best, he is among the best pitchers in the game, and we saw that in the first half of the season. In his second-to-last start of the regular season against the Boston Red Sox, Severino was dominant. He pitched seven innings and allowed one run against a team that has scored the most runs in the American League (876).
If Aaron Boone were to allow Happ to go out and pitch in the Wild Card game against the A’s and he lays an egg, fans will be all over him. If Severino struggles and the team loses, at least the Yankees pitched their ace.
Dashefsky: Yankees fans right now would definitely feel more comfortable with Happ, though. Many fans still remember the near-heart attack he gave them in last year’s wild card game. Of course, he may be great on Wednesday because he is the ace and is easily the most talented pitcher on the team. But, he is not trustworthy. This series is only one game. That means every pitch counts. The pressure will be extremely high, and sometimes Severino can crumble. Happ is the choice most fans would like to see go out there for his consistency, but if Severino does well in the wild card game, that would bode well for them in their subsequent upcoming series.
Severino is their guy, and having him pull out the win to launch them into a series with the Red Sox would be huge, but it’s far too risky against the great bats that Oakland possesses. A lot will depend on that first inning, as well as the Yankees’ hitting. A lot of pressure will be taken off either pitcher if the Yankees score quick and early, which they are more than capable of doing. But, in case the bats are cold, I wouldn’t go to Severino to withstand that fight. Bring him in as a relief pitcher in the middle innings if needed, but he struggles frequently in the first. As it stands, it’s already been decided on, so we’ll see how the decision pans out.
Logan: I understand the skepticism. But this has to be on Severino because he knows he is “the guy” in the rotation. Sure, he was putrid against the Twins in last year’s wild card game, but don’t forget what ensued after that. In the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians, he tossed seven innings, allowed three runs and struck out nine batters for the win. During the ALCS against the Houston Astros, he pitched 8.2 innings and gave up four runs to a high-powered offense. If the Yankees get either of those performances, they should win the game. As you said, he has to fight his first-inning demons and stay confident. Hopefully, for him and the Yankees, the offense will have his back.