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Forget lack of run support, Yankees' Luis Severino has his own work to do

The Yankees have scored just four runs in Luis Severino's three starts. But his 0-2 record and 4.86 ERA isn't all on the offense. Leon Halip/Getty Images

Although New York Yankees starter Luis Severino has gotten off to a rough start this season, the young Dominican right-hander has not received the offensive support to offset his struggles.

Among all regular starters in the American League, Severino has the worst run support, with an average of 1.33 runs per game.

Though it is true Severino has been far from the dominant pitcher he was during most of his 11 starts in 2015, the Yankees have managed to score a total of four runs in his first three games this season. This includes being shut out 4-0 by the Detroit Tigers and falling 7-1 to the Seattle Mariners.

His last outing against the Oakland Athletics, a 7-3 loss, marked the ninth time in 14 games started by Severino that the Yankees have scored four runs or fewer.

But you can't blame run support for everything. In posting an 0-2 record, Severino has allowed nine earned runs over 16.2 innings for a 4.86 ERA. But the biggest concern for the Yankees is the number of hits he has allowed. The 22-year-old has given up 25 hits, including two home runs, in three abbreviated outings in which he completed six innings only once.

He gave up 10 hits in five innings in Detroit and eight hits in 5.2 innings against Seattle. In comparison, he allowed seven hits or fewer in each of his 11 starts last year.

His high-90s fastball has been his go-to pitch, relying on it about 58 percent of the time, while his slider and changeup have taken a back seat.

"I have been throwing the slider too hard, and sometimes I don’t even realize it. Then I see it has reached 89 to 90 miles per hour, but it’s something that I will improve with more experience," Severino said in a Spanish-language interview. "The bottom of the slider has to fall over the plate. If I hang it in the middle like I have, then hitters will make contact. That pitch down is what I’m missing; a strikeout pitch."

Thursday’s outing against Oakland, when he allowed two earned runs over six innings, began to ease concerns that Severino could not easily make the necessary adjustments.

"The weather was warmer, and I was able to have a better feel for my pitches and locate them better. Although the slider was not very good, my changeup and my fastball were working well in that game," he said. "When you're up on the mound, all you want to do is throw strikes and get outs. When some pitches are not working, then I try to push too hard and it affects my mechanics. The adrenaline of the game also makes you think faster, so I have to focus on that."

Severino developed into one of the Yankees' top pitching prospects, not only because of his lively arm, but his sharp changeup, which he's modeled after Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez's lethal strikeout pitch.

And it was that complete arsenal which helped accelerate his major league debut in August of last year, when the then-21-year-old went 3-2 with a 2.04 ERA and 34 strikeouts in his first six starts.

Severino admitted he has stayed away from his changeup because of recent results, and said it is something he’s working on with Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

"My changeup was very good, but I've lost confidence because I've thrown it in some games and it has not worked for me," Severino said. "I'm working on my changeup this year and I am certain that it will be a very good pitch for me in my career. My changeup is good, it’s just a matter of working on it, practicing more and trusting it."