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Luis Severino named Wild Card starter. Wait, what?

To all Yankee fans who have debated whether Masahiro Tanaka or J.A. Happ pitch the Wild Card game, well I’m sorry.  To pretty much everyone’s surprise, much maligned starter Luis Severino has been pegged as the starter, opposite reliever Liam Hendriks.  This marks the first time in a Wild Card game that an “opener” will start the game.

Severino went from CY Young favorite to afterthought in the blink of an eye.  After a masterful first half of the season, Severino struggled with his command, couldn’t get hitters out and looked like a shell of his former self.  By the end of the season he somewhat regained form, but he doesn’t instill the same confidence he did earlier in the season.

Why did Boone choose Severino as the Wild Card starter over Happ or Tanaka?  It would be for one of two reasons;  Either one, Boone feels Severino has the same stuff he had earlier in the season and when right is the best option to pitch due to his overpowering stuff.  The second reason would be the Yankees are already trying to set themselves up for Boston, which is dangerous considering they NEED to win the game on Wednesday to even play Boston and Severino hasn’t exactly had success in the postseason.

Severino against the A’s

Severino is 1-1 against the A’s this season, but it’s more a tale of two halves than anything else.  His first start against the A’s was on May 13th, where he dominated.  Sevy went six strong innings of five hit ball, giving up only one run and striking out seven.

His second start was probably the worst of his career and what many fans look at as the low point of the season.  After just 2 2/3 innings of uninspiring baseball, Severino left the mound on September 5th a broken man.  This was the infamous “mixed signals” game where the combination of Severino and Gary Sanchez produced five runs on six hits, and three passed balls.  As said before, this was a low point in the Yankees’ season.

Liam Hendriks against the Yankees

Being that he’s a reliever, there aren’t many stats this season of Liam Hendriks against the Yankees.  He pitched one shutout inning against the Yankees on September 4th, with one strikeout.  That’s about it.  The biggest issue with the lack of history is two-fold;  The Yankees have been terrible against these “openers”, losing to Tampa Bay multiple times throughout the season without even facing Blake Snell.  What’s even more concerning is that the Yankees have historically been bad against new pitchers.

While Hendriks has been around the league as more of a journeyman reliever, he’s not had much history against the Yankees.  Whether it be a rookie or an unfamiliar face, the Yankees have struggled mightily against these kinds of pitchers.  Let’s hope Wednesday is not the case.

It’s still shocking to see that Luis Severino is starting the Wild Card game on Wednesday, but it could be a blessing in disguise.  Sevy is still technically the ace of the staff, so getting him right is extremely important.  Is it as important to try and get him right in the most important game of the season?  No but maybe this instilled confidence will make him pitch better.  It will be an interesting game indeed.

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