PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Luis Severino wrote pitching coach Larry Rothschild’s advice inside his Yankees’ hat — just in case he needed a reminder.
“Be patient. Be patient.”
This time, Severino didn’t rush his delivery and stayed calm, keeping the ball down and commanding his fastball.
In doing so, he took a solid step toward earning a spot in the Yankees’ 2017 starting rotation.
The 23-year-old righty allowed one run on two hits in three innings on Tuesday in the Yankees’ 10-6 exhibition loss to the Rays.
“I think it shows you his ability,” Joe Girardi said of Severino, who walked one and struck out four. “When he’s right — using all his pitches, making quality pitches and having command of his fastball — he can be really good.”
After setting the Rays down 1-2-3 in the first inning, Severino gave up a wind-aided solo homer to Rickie Weeks Jr. in the second before escaping a bases-loaded jam later in the frame — when he got leadoff man Mallex Smith to ground out to first.
In the third, he struck out the side in order, retiring Logan Morrison, Evan Longoria and Brad Miller — all swinging on sliders. He threw seven or eight changeups on the day, utilizing a secondary pitch he has been working hard at improving.
“I think I have to keep doing what I did today,” Severino said. “Keep the ball down. Keep throwing my pitches. Keep throwing more changeups and my slider in the dirt. That’s what I need to do. And I think at the end of the spring, I’m going to be good.”
In his previous two outings, Severino had served up first-inning, two-run homers to No. 3 batters Jose Bautista (Blue Jays) and Tyler O’Neill (Team Canada).
“I thought he was better today,” Girardi said. “The one inning he got in trouble, he made a couple bad pitches but he stopped it. And I think that’s important. He didn’t let the inning get away from him. I thought his stuff was better today.”
The Yankees believe Severino can be a starter. After going 0-8 with an 8.50 ERA in 11 starts in 2016, he needs to prove it on a consistent basis.
“I think you feel that if it’s a young man that has that velocity and can locate and use his other pitches, he could be a really good starter,” Girardi said before the game. “And he’s so young, so it’s way too early to say he’s this or that, or he’s not going to be this or that.
“You have to be patient. He should just be getting out of college really, and that’s the bottom line. So we’ve been patient and we still envision him as a starter. Nothing tells us that he’s not.”
Girardi has said it over and over again: Severino needs to keep his pitches low and have fastball command. And keep his composure on the mound, too.
“I think that’s the key for him: to slow down and to be breathe and take it easy,” Gary Sanchez said. “The thing with Severino is even when he does that, he will still throw 98. And it’s not like he’s slowing down and his velocity is going to go down. It’s not. He slows down and his command is better. He’s not perfect. There are going to be times when he’s going to rush a little bit, but that’s what I’m there for: to go out there and try to help him out and calm him down and make sure he gets back on track.”
If he does, he can be as solid as he was on Tuesday while serving as a valuable rotation piece for the Yankees in 2017.
Published at Tue, 14 Mar 2017 21:42:52 +0000