On Monday, I texted Peter Brody, “Imagine if this was the ALCS and we were about to see Game 5”. After an incredible four-game series over the weekend, the Yankees will indeed travel to Houston for a regular season Game 5, in a weird little one-game set down in Texas.
First of all, the context: The delayed start to the season forced teams to shuffle their regular-season schedules, meaning the Yankees will play one game in Houston now before returning to Minute Maid Park for a doubleheader immediately after the All Star break. (The planned Opening Day series against the Rangers will close the season instead.) New York can’t pick their schedule, so all that matters is winning every game you can, and they’ll send a flame-throwing righty to the hill to do so.
Thursday: Luis Severino vs. Luis Garcia (6:10pm Eastern)
Yes, we will see a battle of the Luis tonight. The two righties have had eerily similar seasons, with the two separated by just .030 points of ERA. Beyond just the top line, however, Severino’s been a hair better.
The looming question with Sevy is how many innings he’ll be allowed to throw. On the mound, he’s been terrific this year, with a 3.38 ERA, smack dab in between his xERA and FIP. All that is to say, he doesn’t give up much hard contact, but the one or two balls that are hit hard per start leave the park. The biggest risk in a Sevy start is the one bad pitch that leads to a big home run, which is exactly what happened last Friday.
Severino handled the Astros well, striking out seven over six innings, but he did make one bad pitch, a fastball on the inner third that Kyle Tucker clobbered for a three-run shot. It was the only blemish on the 28-year-old’s line, all three runs being the only ones the Astros managed in their 3-1 win behind Justin Verlander. Severino will get another shot at the lineup tonight, and if he can avoid that one big hit, everything else he’s shown us this year should make us pretty comfortable in his starts.
Garcia relies far more on pitching to contact, striking out fewer batters than Sevy by design. However, his strategy has backfired so far this year, as he gives up more hard contact than his Yankee counterpart. If the lineup can find a way to elevate a mediocre four-seam fastball, they might be able to put the game away early.