The Yankees have finally ended weeks of speculation. Aaron Boone announced in a press conference earlier today that Luis Severino would start for New York tomorrow night in the AL Wild Card Game versus the Athletics.
The decision was a long time coming. For months now, the Yankees have been all but destined for the one-game playoff. They had weeks to deliberate, and waited until nearly the last moment to choose between three cogent candidates: Severino, J.A. Happ, and Masahiro Tanaka.
In the end, Severino’s abundant talent appears to have swayed the Yankees’ decision makers, though that doesn’t mean the Yankees are down on Happ and Tanaka. If the Yankees pull off a victory in the Wild Card round, both will surely factor heavily into an ALDS showdown with the Red Sox. There’s even a chance one of Tanaka and Happ could appear in the Wild Card Game itself out of the bullpen, given the Yankees will likely approach the game as an all-hands-on-deck sort of affair.
Severino, 24, logged 191.1 innings worth of 3.39 ERA (2.95 FIP) ball in 2018. That doesn’t paint a complete picture, however, as the right-hander ranked among the game’s best pitchers in the first half. In advance of the All-Star Game, he owned a 2.31 ERA with a 2.75 FIP, and found himself on the short list of Cy Young candidates. The wheels came off shortly thereafter, as he pitched to a 5.57 ERA with a 3.37 FIP in the 63 innings since.
There’s no telling how long Boone will let Severino go tomorrow. Severino lasted merely one out during last year’s Wild Card Game. In any event, Boone will likely have a short leash with all of his pitchers, as an extended poor outing from anyone could doom the entire season. Severino will be the first one to toe the rubber, and will help set the tone for the game.
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