Severino’s Sleeping Giant?

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Back in April, if I told that Greg Bird and Luis Severino were getting significant time in August and September, y0u’d likely think that something had gone horribly wrong and the Yankees were no where near contending. Luckily, that hasn’t been the case and the Yankees are inching ever-closer to a playoff spot, thanks in large part to the contributions of Bird and Severino.

Severino was pressed into Major League service earlier than anticipated and he’s done much better than anticipated. Coming into today’s start against the White Sox, he owns a shiny 129 ERA+ and respectable strikeout numbers: 8.8 K/9 and a 23.07% strikeout rate. His walk rates (~10% and 3.8 per nine) and homer rates (15.9 HR/FB% and 1.3 per nine) are a touch high, but that’s excusable for a 21-year old in his first big league action. Along with Nathan Eovaldi‘s post-disaster start stretch, Severino’s performance has been the most pleasant pitching surprise for the Yankees in 2015.

One of the biggest problems young starters tend to face is turning a Major League lineup over multiple times during the course of the game. For the most part, Severino hasn’t run into this problem. His numbers tend to get better as the game goes on; take that with a grain of salt, though, as the first-time numbers could be skewed thanks to his 9/11 start against the Jays in which he gave up five hits–four for extra bases, including two homers–in the first inning alone. Still his numbers against teams the second and third times he sees them are solid. Severino’s three-pitch arsenal helps this, as he has a dynamite fastball, a strong slider, and a developing changeup. In fact, it’s that changeup that has helped him be so successful in turning lineups over.

Like most pitchers, Severino throws his fastball the most in any time through the order: 57.65 the first time; 44.88 the second; and 54.82 the third. His changeup, as you can see in the chart/graph, is least utilized each time through the lineup as well: 12.46; 16.17; 16.27. Changeup usage does ramp up slightly from first to second, then stays pretty consistent during the third. The changeup, though, has one interesting result that differentiates it from other pitches; it generates more whiffs-per-swing as the game goes on, whereas the other two pitches see a drop-off in whiff-per-swing, especially the slider.

In fact, of all his pitches, we could argue that the changeup has been Severino’s most effective pitch. It has the best whiff/swing rate; the best groundball rate; and the lowest home run rate (0.00!). This could be a result of relative scarcity: he’s thrown the pitch least often, so batters may not be used to it and aren’t able to do much to it. However, the results on the pitch seem encouraging enough for him to consider trying it more often. This will be dictated by whoever he’s facing because an RHP like Severino is less likely to throw a changeup to a lineup full of RHB. Still, given the velocity on the pitch, it acts a bit like a splitter, which is something a pitcher is able to throw to batters of both handedness (see Masahiro Tanaka).

Severino has three pitches, which is key to any pitcher’s success–remember all the frustration of A.J. Burnett‘s two-pitch assault? The next step for him in transitioning to big-time, big-league starter is feeling comfortable and confident enough to throw any pitch in any count to any batter. Given what we’ve seen so far, Severino’s changeup has the potential to be a great pitch; if he can learn to use it more frequently, he’ll go from potential great pitcher to great pitcher.

Yankees rally in the sixth for 2-1 win over White Sox

Source: FanGraphs

On Saturday, two runs were just enough. The Yankees rallied in the sixth inning for a 2-1 win over the White Sox in the third game of their four-game series. Give the pitching staff a gold star for this one. It’s Saturday, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Not A Starter: Adam Warren‘s third start back in the rotation was his best even though he allowed three hits and a run in the first inning. He escaped the jam, completed six full innings, and picked up a well-earned win. Warren struck out four and walked three — all three walks came in the fifth inning too — while throwing 88 pitches. After the messy first, Warren retired 16 of the final 19 men he faced. That’ll do nicely. Probably time to ship him back to the bullpen.
  • Two Two-Baggers: The offense sleepwalked through the first five innings of Saturday’s game, mustering three scattered singles and two walks. They were able to break the game open scratch across two runs in the sixth thanks to back-to-back doubles. Jacoby Ellsbury started the inning with a single, stole second, then scored on Chase Headley‘s ground-rule double into the left-center field gap. Alex Rodriguez drove in Headley with a ground-rule double off third baseman Mike Olt. It was a hard-hit grounder that deflected off Olt’s glove and hopped into the stands. That works. The Yankees will take runs however they can get ’em these days.
  • The Formula: One-run lead after six innings? We all knew what was coming next. Joe Girardi was going to his big three relievers. Justin Wilson struck out two in a perfect seventh, Dellin Betances got three quick outs in a perfect eighth, and Andrew Miller struck out two in a perfect ninth. Those three hits off Warren in the first inning? They were Chicago’s only hits of the day. Warren & Co. retired the final 13 White Sox batters.
  • Leftovers: The Yankees had seven hits, including two each by Ellsbury and Rob Refsnyder. It’s too bad they waiting so long to give Refsnyder Brendan Ryan‘s platoon at-bats at second … Headley, A-Rod, and Didi Gregorius also had hits while A-Rod, Carlos Beltran, Chris Young (two), and Brett Gardner drew walks … and finally, the Yankees have set a new AL single-season record with 573 strikeouts by their relievers. The old record? The 2014 Yankees with 571.

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and postseason odds. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot is four and the tragic number in the AL East is five. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and White Sox wrap up this four-game series Sunday afternoon. It’ll be Luis Severino against Erik Johnson, not Jeff Samardzija.

Saturday Night Open Thread

Here is your open thread for the evening. FOX Sports 1 is showing the Brewers and Cardinals tonight, plus MLB Network will air a regional game as well. There’s also a bunch of college football on. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Game 154: Nine to Go


Counting today, there are only nine games left in the regular season. That kinda sucks. The good news is the Yankees are in position to go to the postseason this year, though they haven’t clinched anything yet. The magic number for a wildcard spot is five — it’s five for the first wildcard spot as well since the Astros and Angels have the same number of losses — and it would be cool to clinch during the homestand. Six games to get to get the job done.

Of course, the Yankees would actually need to score some runs for that to happen. The offense has been scuffling for weeks now — they’re averaging 3.75 runs per game in their last 12 games but man, it sure feels like less — because way too many players have hit the skids in the second half. Half the lineup, basically. Nine games left in the regular season to get the offense back on track. Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. LF Chris Young
  7. 1B Greg Bird
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Rob Refsnyder
    RHP Adam Warren

There are a few clouds in the sky this afternoon but not many. No rain in the forecast or anything like that. Pretty nice autumn afternoon for a game. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05pm ET and you can watch on WPIX. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Masahiro Tanaka (hamstring) continued to undergo treatment and feels better. Joe Girardi said they haven’t decided when he will make his next start, but they expect him to pitch again in the regular season … Nathan Eovaldi (elbow) played catch for the first time Friday. He’ll throw again this week. Girardi stated the obvious, saying if Eovaldi does return at some point this year, it’ll be as a reliever.

Saturday Links: Wildcard Game, Thames, Judge, Son, Yogi


The Yankees and White Sox are halfway through their four-game series. They continue the set with the third game later this afternoon. Here are some links to help you pass the time.

Wildcard games start times announced

Earlier this week, MLB announced the start times for the two wildcard games. The AL game will be played at 8:08pm ET on Tuesday, October 6th, while the NL game will be played at 8:08pm ET on Wednesday, October 7th. Standard postseason start times. The AL game will be broadcast on ESPN and the NL game on TBS. Those are the only games scheduled those days. The full postseason schedule can be found right here.

The Yankees come into today four games back of the Blue Jays in the AL East and 4.5 games up on the Astros for the first wildcard spot. They’re five games up on the Angels for a wildcard spot in general. The magic number to clinch the team’s first postseason berth since 2012 is a mere five, as Joe DiMaggio tells you in the sidebar. It’s unlikely the Yankees will catch and pass the Blue Jays to win the AL East, so they figure to be playing in that wildcard game one week from Tuesday. They’ll host the game at Yankee Stadium if they hold onto their lead for the first wildcard spot.

Q&A with Marcus Thames

Brendan Kuty recently posted a short-ish interview with Triple-A Scranton hitting coach Marcus Thames, who was with the Yankees during their recent trip to Toronto. Thames discussed his philosophy as a hitting coach and some players we’ve seen come up from the minors this year. He also spoke about top prospect OF Aaron Judge at length after Judge hit .224/.308/.373 (98 wRC+) with a 28.5% strikeout rate in 61 games for the RailRiders.

“If you come to a game and watch, everybody’s trying to make him expand (the strike zone). So if he expands, he’s going to get himself out. So he’s going to have to have discipline to know what he does well, and that’s swing at strikes. If he does that, he’s going to be fine,” said Thames. Judge is always going to strike out a bunch — he’s 6-foot-7 remember, that’s a lot of strike zone to cover — but another few hundred at bats in Triple-A next season is best for him. Triple-A is the place to learn how to not expand the zone, not the big leagues.

Son. (Korea Times)
Son. (Korea Times)

Korean OF Ah-Seop Son plans to come to MLB

Korean outfielder Ah-Seop Son plans to come over to MLB this offseason, reports Jeff Passan. Son will not be a free agent this winter, so his team, the Lotte Giants, will have to make him available through the posting system. Once he is posted, teams will be able to place a blind bid, and high bidder gets a 30-day window to negotiate a contract with Son. Here are his career stats, via Baseball Reference:

2007 19 -9.5 Lotte KBO 4 6 2 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 .167 .167 .333 .500
2008 20 -8.2 Lotte KBO 80 250 31 66 11 1 3 17 2 3 28 35 .303 .387 .404 .791
2009 21 -7.3 Lotte KBO 34 96 11 16 4 0 3 4 1 1 9 16 .186 .263 .337 .600
2010 22 -6.0 Lotte KBO 121 487 85 129 23 0 11 47 6 2 50 82 .306 .377 .438 .815
2011 23 -5.4 Lotte KBO 116 492 79 144 25 5 15 83 13 4 43 80 .326 .385 .507 .892
2012 24 -4.3 Lotte KBO 132 556 61 158 26 0 5 58 10 5 41 79 .314 .370 .396 .766
2013 25 -3.5 Lotte KBO 128 568 83 172 23 4 11 69 36 7 64 88 .345 .421 .474 .895
2014 26 -2.9 Lotte KBO 122 570 105 175 25 3 18 80 10 3 80 78 .362 .456 .538 .994
2015 27 Lotte KBO 108 480 82 133 26 0 12 52 11 6 62 95 .321 .408 .471 .879
All Levels (9 Seasons) 845 3505 539 994 164 13 78 411 89 31 377 554 .324 .399 .462 .860

Son, who turns 28 in March, is described as a player “whose forte is more hitting for a high average and getting on base” rather than hitting for power. Passan notes Son will qualify for free agency next year, so if he gets lowballed during contract talks this winter, he could simply return to Korea for another season, then try again as a true free agent with more negotiating leverage next offseason.

The Yankees have a full and rather pricey big league outfield as well as a bevy of lefty hitting outfielders in the upper minors — Son is a left-handed hitter as well — so I’m not sure he makes sense for them. (For what it’s worth, the Yankees are reportedly scouting Korean first baseman Byung-Ho Park.) That said, you can be sure teams will take a much harder look at Korean players going forward following the success of Jung-Ho Kang with the Pirates.

Yogi’s funeral will be an “intimate private memorial”

According to Priscella DeGregory, the funeral for the late Yogi Berra will be an “intimate private memorial” next week, likely near his home in Montclair, New Jersey. It’ll be a small service for his family according to officials for Berra’s museum. “The outpouring of emotion that we have witnessed is a testimonial to how significant an impact he had not just as an athlete but as a human being,” said museum CEO Kevin Peters to DeGregory. Yogi passed away at age 90 late Tuesday night. We all miss him.

Double plays doom Yankees in 5-2 loss to White Sox

Every loss seems to play out the same way these days. The starter pitches okay but not great, the offense doesn’t get The Big Hit, and the Triple-A bullpen allows an insurance run or two. That’s exactly what happened in Friday night’s 5-2 loss to the White Sox. It followed the script perfectly.


Three Bad Innings
Earlier this season, CC Sabathia seemed to fall victim to the One Bad Inning start after start. He’d pitch well for a few innings, allow like four runs at once, then continue to pitch well afterwards. It was annoying. This game featured three bad innings. The White Sox scored one run in the second, another run in the third, and then two more in the seventh.

The second and third inning rallies involved a series of base hits. They’re weren’t quick rallies. Melky Cabrera singled and scored on Alexei Ramirez’s double into the right center field gap in the third — Ramirez’s double was a single that became a double because, you know, Carlos Beltran defense — then Sabathia put two more runners on base before escaping the inning. Four of the first six batters reached base in the second.

In the third, Sabathia allowed a one-out single to Trayce Thompson and a two-out single to Avisail Garcia to score the run. (Thompson took second on a ground out earlier.) The PC Richard & Son whistle mistakenly went off after strike two to Garcia, which was amusing. Both hits in the inning came in two-strike counts, which was less amusing. Mike Olt and Gordon Beckham then hit solo homers in the seventh for two runs. Olt hit a ball into the second deck in left. Very bad pitches. Very, very bad.

Sabathia finished the night with four runs allowed on six hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. He struck out three and did get an impressive 14 ground ball outs. (Only two in the air.) Sabathia has pitched much better since coming off the DL but this was easily his worst start of the four. Those two homers in the seventh ruined it. Sabathia was fine up until then.


Blown Chances
Carlos Rodon did everything in his power to give this game to the Yankees. He walked five and hit two batters in six innings of work. That’s seven (!) free base-runners. Not a single one of those seven scored. Didi Gregorius drove in both of New York’s runs in the fourth inning. Brian McCann (single) and Chris Young (infield single) reached base earlier to setup the rally.

Of course, all those free base-runners led to lots of chances, yet the Yankees never capitalized. A hit batsman and a walk in the second? Rob Refsnyder grounded out to end the threat. A hit batsman and a walk in the third? Beltran popped up to end the inning. Bases loaded in the fourth? Chase Headley hit into an inning-ending double play. A double and a walk in the sixth? Brett Gardner banged into a double play. A leadoff base-runner in both the seventh and eighth? More double plays! These by Alex Rodriguez and Young.

That was rough. The Yankees had plenty of chances but were smacking into double plays or popping or whatever all night. The offense has been scuffling for weeks now — there are simply too many players not hitting at the moment, most notably Gardner, Headley, and A-Rod — and we’ve seen a few too many games like this recently. Lots of opportunities but not lots of runs. They’ve got ten days to figure it out before the wildcard game.


David Robertson tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 32nd save. Wait … he’s not on the team anymore. Force of habit. Anyway, Andrew Bailey was the first reliever out of the bullpen and he retired all four batters he faced, with two strikeouts mixed in. Nick Rumbelow (two singles) and Chasen Shreve (one single) conspired to allow an insurance run in the ninth. The bullpen is a mess right now.

The Yankees had six hits: a double by Refsnyder and singles by Gardner, Headley, McCann, Young, and Gregorius. A-Rod, McCann (two), Greg Bird, Refsnyder, and Gregorius drew the six walks. Gardner and McCann were hit by pitches. McCann was on base four times? Huh, didn’t realize it.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game, and here are the updated standings and postseason odds for the season. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot remains five as of this writing. The tragic number in the AL East is also five. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and White Sox still have two more games to play. They’ll play the third game of this four-game set Saturday afternoon. That’s a 4pm ET start. Adam Warren and John Danks is the scheduled pitching matchup. There are only six home games left in the regular season, so head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch any of them live.

Game 153: Happy Anniversary

One year ago today, Derek Jeter played his final home game at Yankee Stadium. I know you remember that. It was an incredible night capped off by Jeter’s walk-off single to win the game. If a movie ended like that, it would be the cheesiest thing ever. But real life? It was remarkable. One of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.

One year ago today, the Yankees had already been eliminated from postseason contention. Jeter’s walk-off didn’t help the team in the standings at all. This year, the story is different. The Yankees are in contention and their magic number to clinch a playoff spot is a mere five. They could clinch as soon as Sunday if things break right. One game at a time though. Focus on winning tonight and worry about tomorrow tomorrow. Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. LF Chris Young
  7. 1B Greg Bird
  8. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s cloudy and cool in New York, but there is no rain in the forecast tonight, so that’s good. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Masahiro Tanaka (hamstring) threw a 31-pitch bullpen session with no problems, but admitted the Grade I strain “isn’t completely gone” and won’t be until after the season. He’s yet to run at full speed or attempt any fielding drills. Tanaka insists he can pitch with the injury, for what it’s worth.