After a mostly-successful series in Toronto, the Yankees head to Cincinnati for an interleague showdown with the Reds. As one of our first tastes of the newly-balanced schedule, this series was always a notable one on the calendar, but it comes with extra weight given that righthander Luis Severino will make his season debut on Sunday.
The now-29-year-old missed the first seven weeks of the year with a lat problem, but after a long rehab process is back on the mound. Depth Charts projects him for a 3.77 ERA and 1.6 fWAR over 107 innings for the rest of the season, and he’ll get the chance to start the year against one of the league’s worst offenses in the Reds. Cincinnati enters the series 25th and 26th in team wRC+ and offensive fWAR respectively.
Friday: Clarke Schmidt vs. Ben Lively (6:40pm Eastern)
One of the guys most affected by Severino’s return goes on Friday night, as Schmidt will look to justify his rotation slot in the series opener. Schmidt’s unsightly 6.30 ERA is about a run and a half higher than his FIP, thanks to strides in strikeout and walk rate. He’s gotta keep the ball in the ballpark, though, with his 1.80 HR/9 rate the highest on the club and ninth-highest among all MLB starters. Great American Ballpark isn’t great for those with home run troubles.
Lively will work as something of an opener, in his third appearance of the year. The Reds have used him to bookend games, with one start of three innings on May 11 and a 2.1 inning save on Monday. He features a fastball and slider, and while his 6-foot-5 frame gives him exceptional extension towards the plate, his raw stuff belies his 1.69 ERA.
Saturday: TBD vs. Luke Weaver (4:10 Eastern)
Aaron Boone said Thursday that Jhony Brito will likely be the starter for this one, although no official announcement has been made and it’s possible the Yankees will run back the opener strategy they employed against the Blue Jays. With Domingo Germán’s suspension, Brito will keep his spot in the rotation for now, and while he hasn’t matched the impressive outings his first two starts, his changeup is still worth watching and maybe pairing him with Jimmy Cordero is the way to go.
Luke Weaver has had a tough start to the season, striking out a batter per inning but also being absolutely walloped by the long ball. More than 20 percent of his fly balls have left the yard so far this season, a terrifying rate that should probably regress, but when THIS is your fastball location maybe not.
Sunday: Luis Severino vs. Hunter Greene (11:35am Eastern)
Consider this as your warning that this game is on Peacock, the team’s only such game of the year.
Sevy is back on a Sunday morning, although between his first start and publicized-dislike of early outings, I wonder how long a leash the Yankees will have with him. If everything’s working, the club should allow him to go about 75 pitches, as he threw 58 in his final rehab outing touching 97 on the gun.
Greene sits higher than that, throwing the hardest four-seam in baseball at 98.5 mph. It’s relatively flat for that velo, though, as he’s struggled to command it in both his MLB campaigns. Greene should remind us all a lot of Aroldis Chapman’s days as a starter, with one of the most eye-popping fastballs you’ll see, but not as much of a handle on it as you’d want from a top-of-rotation arm.