Luis Severino’s postseason career didn’t get off to a shining start Tuesday in the American League wild-card game. He threw a third of an inning, allowing three earned runs. His start matched the shortest postseason start in New York Yankees history.
He was the 19th starting pitcher in postseason history to throw a third of an inning or fewer and allow three or more runs. He was just the third whose team went on to win the game -- joining Ray Sadecki’s St. Louis Cardinals against the Yankees in the 1964 World Series and Vic Aldridge’s Pittsburgh Pirates against the Washington Senators in the 1925 World Series.
What went wrong for Severino? One tangible thing was his lack of swings-and-misses. He didn’t get a single swing-and-miss in his 29-pitch outing. This was the first outing of his career -- regular season or postseason, start or relief appearance -- where he did not induce at least one swing-and-miss.
Something else Severino noted were his emotions: “I learned that it doesn’t help, you know, a lot of adrenaline, trying to do too much. So [Monday] just try to calm myself down and try to breathe and think before every pitch.”
What can we expect in Game 4?
Severino recognized the opportunity he has been given to redeem himself in the postseason, saying Sunday after Game 3: “It means a lot. I think the last start I [had] wasn’t my best one, so I’ll have a chance to go over there and try to do my job and give the team a chance to win.”
Of the pitchers to give up three or more runs in a third of an inning or fewer in a start, the Elias Sports Bureau notes that five of them started again that postseason.
The most recent of those was Steve Avery of the 1992 Atlanta Braves. He pitched in relief later in the National League Championship Series, then started Game 3 of the World Series. He went eight innings, in strong contrast to his short start earlier in the playoffs, and allowed three earned runs. The Braves lost 3-2. He got another start in Game 6, going four innings and allowing two runs in the game the Toronto Blue Jays would go on to win the World Series.
What about the others? After a bad start in Game 4 in 1973, Ken Holtzman came back and pitched Game 7, going 5⅓ innings and allowing just one run as the Oakland Athletics defeated the New York Mets in the World Series.
Before him, it was Art Ditmar in 1960. After losing Game 1 of the World Series, he started Game 5 but lasted just 1⅓ innings, allowing three runs yet again.
In 1958, Bob Turley struck out 10 batters in a Game 5 shutout after getting knocked out early in Game 2. He followed that up by picking up the save in Game 6 and winning Game 7 with 6⅔ innings out of the bullpen.
The first pitcher to allow three or more runs in a third of an inning as a starter, then get another start, was Ed Summers in 1909. He went allowed five runs while recording only one out in Game 3 of the World Series. He came back and started Game 5, throwing seven innings but allowing 10 hits and eight runs.
Will Severino’s second chance be more like Turley’s or Ditmar’s? Only time will tell.
Severino is ready to turn the page: “I mean, I start the next day. I look at the videos, see what happened and … learn from my -- that start, trying to, not to be too perfect, just locating my pitches and trying to be more careful with the hitters.”