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Breaking down Luis Severino’s poor performance versus Boston

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Severino looked strong against the Athletics during the Wild Card Game, but followed with his worst performance of the year against the Red Sox.

Luis Severino got torched for six runs in just three innings versus Boston in Game Three of the AL Division Series. Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Luis Severino looked sharp against the Athletics during the Wild Card Game. He recorded seven of his 12 outs on strikeouts, and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Having done everything the Yankees could have expected and more, he then turned a 2-0 lead over to a rested bullpen to nail down the victory. That dominant Severino was nowhere to be found against Boston in ALDS Game Three.

It was clear from the onset that Severino didn’t have it. He pitched around an understandable walk to J.D. Martinez to escape the first inning unscathed. However, all three outs were hard-hit rockets that sent Brett Gardner back to deep center field to make the play. On a humid night when the field was covered in heavy mist, Severino may well have been saved by the weather. One or more of those shots might have carried over the fence in normal playing conditions.

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the second with perfectly executed A-B-C baseball. Well, sort of. Rafael Devers, starting at third for a slumping Eduardo Nunez, got things started by singling on a rope to the right-center field power alley. It would have been a double, if not for Aaron Judge’s arm. Devers stole second as Steve Pearce struck out swinging on a wicked changeup, one of the few great pitches Severino threw during this game. Devers moved to third on a groundout, and then scored on a Christian Vazquez bullet single, which was hit back through the box and deflected off Severino.

Severino got hit hard again in the third, with the Red Sox scoring twice to increase their lead to 3-0. Betts singled, moved to third on a Benintendi single, and scored on a Martinez sacrifice fly. Benintendi moved to third on a Bogaerts single, and scored when Devers grounded into a force out. The inning mercifully came to an end when Pearce flew out to Gardner in front of the 408-foot sign in dead-center field. In normal weather, Pearce’s blast might have been a two-run homer.

Aaron Boone inexplicably sent the battered Severino back out to pitch the fourth. He gave up back-to-back first-pitch singles to Holt and Vazquez, and then walked Bradley on four pitches to load the bases. Boone finally went to the bullpen. Unfortunately, Lance Lynn didn’t have it either and allowed all three inherited runners to score.

Severino’s final line was as ugly as they get. He coughed up six runs on seven hits over three plus innings, while walking two and striking out two. Half of the 18 batters he faced reached base safely. As bad as his line score was, the game was even uglier to watch. Sevy simply got torched. Even the outs were rockets.

Against Oakland, Severino hit 99-mph with his fastball in the first inning and 100 in the second. He only reached 98-mph versus the Red Sox, and only did that four times. He mostly lived at 96-97 with his four-seamer. His velocity was down, and Severino was not fooling anyone with his change of speeds, location, or pitch sequencing.

Exactly half of Severino’s 70 pitches were four-seam fastballs, with most of the hard-hit balls coming on that pitch. He threw an uncharacteristically high number of change-ups (18), but half of them missed the strike zone.

When asked about his poor start, Severino said he didn’t have a feel for his slider and had difficulty locating the fastball. During the game, it was reported that this was due to Severino being late to warm up. Both Severino and Boone refuted that after the game, however. I’m sure there will be much discussion on this, whose fault it was, and what the possible late warm-up had to do with the poor performance.

Regardless, sometimes pitchers just don’t have it. I get it. But Severino’s ineffectiveness was obvious to everyone watching right from the start, so why did Boone wait so long to go to the bullpen? That’s a real good question for another article.