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What can Luis Severino learn from Gerrit Cole’s outing against Cleveland?

The Guardians will be hunting fastballs against Severino.

MLB: JUL 12 Yankees at Indians Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Initially when thinking through this article, I planned on going through batter-by-batter on Luis Severino’s approach to the Guardians lineup, similar to how I did yesterday with Nestor Cortes. However, after watching Gerrit Cole churn through that starting nine, I thought it would be smart to use that insight and knowledge as a peek into what Severino might do against a most likely similar lineup. Cole was, in my eyes, quite dominant against the Guardians lineup, and while Sevy isn’t an identical pitcher to the Yankees ace, they do use their fastball and slider in similar ways.

With that said, I want to highlight a few matchups that can swing Severino’s start. As we saw from Cole, the Guardians have a plan against high-velocity righties. They are hunting fastballs and are saying “whatever” to their whiffs against breaking balls and off-speed pitches. It’s a big risk to take if the pitcher has any command of their breaking balls, which Cole did all night. Severino will be extremely successful if he can locate his slider and changeup in the bottom third and under the zone.

Steven Kwan

On Tuesday night, Steven Kwan, José Ramírez, and Andrés Giménez provided five hits, including a home run from Kwan over the short porch. Kwan’s homer wasn’t necessarily smashed, but it traveled long enough to get into the first few rows. The pitch from Cole came on a fastball in the lower third of the zone.

That is probably the only pitch that Kwan could have taken Cole out on, based on his swing type and Cole’s fastball shape.

Severino will need to learn from that — not because he shouldn’t throw any fastballs in that area at all, but instead as a lesson for what Kwan was hunting in a clear fastball count. Sometimes, you make mistakes and hitters put a swing on it that is perfectly suited for the park. In this case, it may be a good idea for Sevy to use one of his cutter, slider, or changeup in hitter’s advantage counts. Kwan isn’t going to hurt you too bad on any one swing, but why give him a chance if you’re not necessarily afraid of the guy who is behind him?

José Ramírez

J-Ram is a top-10 hitter in baseball from the left side. In the playoffs, he ascends closer to the top-five. His style of hitting is well-suited for hitting great pitching. Few players are better than him at getting barrels on high-velocity fastballs. It’ll be important for Severino to keep his fastball on the outer third of the plate when he uses it, since Ramírez possesses such great pull-side power.

I’m not entirely sure if it was on purpose, but I like the idea of using the fastball out of the zone and challenging with breaking balls and off-speed in the zone. This will be the perfect time for Sevy to use his changeup to pair with his away fastballs. J-Ram, along with the rest of the team will be hunting those fastballs over the middle of the plate. Severino can keep him honest with sliders towards his back foot, and changeups under the zone that could potentially yield a groundball.

Andrés Giménez and Josh Naylor

The Giménez/Naylor part of the lineup is where I think Severino will need to be the most cautious. Depending on who falls later in the starting nine, there is very little reason to challenge them. Once you’re into the bottom third of Cleveland’s lineup, you’re in the driver's seat. None of their hitters are good matchups against Sevy’s high-90s fastball and vicious slider.

Naylor is so willing to chase under the zone while he tries to cheat on fastballs. I foresee Severino using his slider low and in to get a few whiffs and/or groundballs. Giménez isn’t quite the power threat of Naylor, but he is just as aggressive. These two hitters will be approached similarly, but in the case of the Guardians’ second baseman, I think Severino can be more aggressive on fastballs up in the zone since Giménez isn’t a significant power threat against Severino’s grade of fastball.

In his return from the IL, we saw Severino’s most electric fastball since his dominance a few years ago. The Guardians will try their best to jump on it, but I’m confident that they will be overmatched while trying to not also whiff over his slider. I hope Sevy’s leash is long because he deserves to go out there and shove for as long as he can.