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New York Yankees @ Cincinnati Reds: Luis Severino vs. Hunter Greene

Luis Severino makes his 2023 debut and the Yankees go for a sweep in Cincinnati on a Sunday morning.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

These Yankees are trending in the right direction heading into a Monday offday that the team has to be excited about. They’re 7-3 over their last 10 games, and after edging out Toronto in three out of four, they promptly rolled into Cincy and took the first two in this set. The division deficit has deflated from 10 games to 6.5, and the Yanks vaulted into third place with the two victories Friday and Saturday. The Rays are cooling off a bit and just dropped a series to the Mets. Overall, the alarm bells aren’t ringing as loud as they were last week. It’s not time to break the glass just yet.

The Yankees banged out 13 hits in the win yesterday, and Anthony Rizzo continued his monster series homering in both games. Both came off Ian Gibaut, who also allowed a Aaron Judge dinger Friday night. Gibaut is not having the best weekend of his life.

The Reds send their presumed ace of the future Hunter Greene to the mound, hoping to salvage the series finale. The former No. 2 overall pick has flashed excellence to earn a six-year, $53 million extension but hasn’t fully found his footing as a big league starter yet, and walks continue to bug him. He allowed six earned runs in four innings at Coors Field in his last start. Greene is at least a league-average arm with a 100 ERA- (4.60 ERA) and 83 FIP- (3.77 FIP), but with a 1.58 WHIP, it’s difficult to go deep into games.

Luis Severino’s return after two rehab starts is arguably the most intriguing storyline this morning. He was officially activated this morning from the IL with Jhony Brito heading back to Triple-A. A steady Sevy could kick this team into high gear and make Carlos Rodón’s absence hurt less. With Clarke Schmidt trending upward, the rotation might just be rounding into shape sans Rodón. It’s Sevy’s last year under the extension he signed in 2019, so best believe he has something extra on the line. He’s already such a ferocious competitor that I personally can’t wait to see what Walk Year Sevy has in store.

The bullpen deserves a break and Severino’s return could eventually provide that opportunity (though he’s limited to 75 pitches today). The relief corps has been up against it since Tuesday’s ejection of Domingo Germán and has performed admirably. After some shaky command, Clay Holmes is back to being a force late in the game. Ron Marinaccio has recovered from his rough patch to spin consecutive scoreless appearances. Credit to the organization for seamlessly pulling off emergency heavy lifting for former low-leverage guys Jimmy Cordero, Ryan Weber, and the recently-IL’d Ian Hamilton, all providing both length and quality in soaking up the glut of innings allocated to the ‘pen recently. Even Albert Abreu has looked good in his last two outings.

The big lineup note is that Aaron Judge gets the day off, though he will likely be available for a pinch-hitting role should the need arise. Anthony Rizzo moves up to Judge’s No. 2 spot in the batting order, DJ LeMahieu hits third, and Willie Calhoun will be the DH batting cleanup. Gleyber Torres continues to lead off and Isiah Kiner-Falefa stays in the eight hole in light of his mini-hot streak. Kyle Higashioka gets the start behind the plate after Ben Rortvedt impressed yesterday in his pinstriped debut.

A sweep heading into the offday would be nice. Cutting the division lead to 5.5 games while doing so would be nicer — the Rays match up with the Brewers Sunday at the Trop. Let’s go Yankees.

How to watch

Location: Great American Ball Park— Cincinnati, OH

First pitch: 11:35 am ET

TV broadcast: Peacock

Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9, WADO 1280 (NYY), WLW 700 (CIN)

Online stream: Peacock app

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