The Yankees didn’t get the win on Wednesday night in Minnesota, as the offense was in deep sleep during the 3-1 loss to the Twins. The defeat sealed a series loss to a team the Bombers have knocked around senselessly over the past 15 years. It also forced the team into a dogfight for the first Wild Card spot.
On the bright side, Wednesday night’s frustrating loss did have an enormous positive attached to it. Luis Severino looked remarkably better than his disastrous start in Oakland, tossing 5.2 innings of one-run ball while walking none and striking out five. For a team that will be spending the next two weeks battling to stay in front of the A’s, the Yankees need their ace now more than ever. For at least one start, it looked like they had him back, and the numbers back that up.
Aside from the basic line mentioned above, Severino appeared to have more bite to his slider than he has in the past month and a half, which has been one of the constant keys to improvement mentioned by analysts and fans alike during Severino’s extended slump. Watching Severino on Wednesday night had to be an encouraging sign for Aaron Boone and Larry Rothschild in that regard, considering his slider had more horizontal and vertical movement than in any start since July 1st, per FanGraphs.
Consider one of his best sliders of the night, which in recent starts had been left squarely over the middle of the plate, with lazier movement.
Luis Severino, Wicked 87mph Slider Path. pic.twitter.com/lYIh3OL4nk— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 13, 2018
Severino’s start on July 1st was a brilliant shutout performance against the Red Sox, right before things started to snowball downhill. If that version of Severino can make his way back, the Yankees would be ecstatic. His most recent start, though just a blip on the radar screen, showed encouraging signs of getting there.
Sure, it was against an inferior Twins team, and he had drastically worse results when facing a far better offense in Oakland, but the numbers don’t lie. That’s particularly true in regards to the movement on his secondary pitch. These stats don’t have to be reconsidered due to the opponent he faced.
Maybe Severino has found his second wind, and can help guide the Yankees to a home game come October 3rd. He certainly seemed to be pitching with new life on Wednesday. His fastball velocity averaged over 98 mph, the highest mark since July 7th. More importantly, his slider was diving again. For Severino, that should be the most encouraging sign of all.