Luis Severino began his season in April pitching against the Double-A Akron Rubber Ducks at Canal Stadium in Ohio. He threw five scoreless innings, striking out eight and walking none. Since then, he has only gotten better. It has gotten to a point that Severino very well could make a playoff start in October if the New York Yankees make it to a divisional series.
Severino, who begins the Yankees' 10-game homestand on the mound Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays, is probably a favorite to start a division series game. Severino is 2-2 with a 2.17 ERA. If he had any run support, his record might be 4-0. (The Yankees scored just once in each of his losses.)
As it stands, the Yankees would be the wild card, which, if they were to win the elimination game, would basically guarantee they need to use four starters in the playoffs. But even if they win the division and go right into the divisional mix, they would figure to need four starters. Severino is clearly in the top four.
If we were handicapping how Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi would order the Yankees' rotation, it would be, as of now, as follows:
That would leave Ivan Nova and CC Sabathia on the outside looking in. Nova, coming off Tommy John surgery, has been inconsistent, going 5-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 12 starts. Sabathia has had a year to forget. He will try to come back from his latest knee setback, but there is still no evidence he can be consistently healthy and effective because of the injury.
That leaves the dynamic Severino, standing tall as a playoff starter, which has been in the back of the Yankees' minds for some time. The Yankees have mapped out Severino's innings, beginning at the end of last season, so his odometer would still have October playoff miles to use. Unlike the Mets with Matt Harvey, the Yankees have put no limitations on Severino here at the most crucial part of the season.
Severino is not giving the Yankees' length, but he is giving them quality. After going five innings in his debut, he has pitched six innings in each of his subsequent four starts. He has allowed three runs once, two once, one twice and his last time out he went six scoreless. So, besides his debut -- one of the two-run outings and the only one he went just five innings -- he has thrown what is considered a quality start each time out.
However, forget the numbers for a moment, here is the gut question the Yankees and their fans must ask themselves: Whom do you feel the most confident in on the mound? Severino tops Sabathia and Nova, for sure, and it is close with Tanaka, Pineda and Eovaldi.
The fact that Severino is 21 shouldn't bother anyone. He has handled the hype, the large media contingent and being a Yankee with relative ease. This year, the discussion is if he should be in the playoff rotation. He should.
By next year, the discussion might just be: Who should start Game 2 after Severino?