CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Yankees still aren't sure if Luis Severino can repeat the 11 electric starts he made late in 2015, when he helped the team secure a postseason spot, but they're ready to give him that chance.Severino was named the Yanks' fourth starter on Thursday, hours before he
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Yankees still aren't sure if Luis Severino can repeat the 11 electric starts he made late in 2015, when he helped the team secure a postseason spot, but they're ready to give him that chance.
Severino was named the Yanks' fourth starter on Thursday, hours before he held the Phillies to one run over five innings in a 14-1 win in the Grapefruit League finale. Manager Joe Girardi said Severino needs to grab the opportunity and "run with it," a challenge that the right-hander is embracing.
"I have to be the starter that they know that I am," Severino said. "I'm trying to win games, trying to give a chance for the team to win."
Guaranteed a rotation slot last year, Severino flopped, going 0-8 with an 8.50 ERA in 11 starts. Though he excelled as a reliever later in the 2016 season, posting a 0.39 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 11 appearances, Severino is grateful for another opportunity to prove himself as a starter.
"It feels good. It's very good," Severino said. "I'm happy because they gave me the chance to be a starter and to show them that I can be a starter."
Severino came into the spring battling with Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Bryan Mitchell and Adam Warren for rotation spots; Jordan Montgomery later joined the competition. Severino finished the spring 2-0 with a 3.95 ERA in 13 2/3 innings, allowing 12 hits and five walks to go with 16 strikeouts.
Girardi said it will be important for Severino to pitch down in the strike zone, and that his fastball command looked "much better" last Friday against Philadelphia, when he struck out five over three hitless innings.
"That was the thing, to me, that got him in the most trouble last year," Girardi said. "Yeah, we talked about the changeup; we still feel the changeup is important and he needs a third pitch. First and foremost, he has to locate his fastball.
"If he does that, he's going to be able to get through lineups because when it's power and it's down, they don't have good swings at it. When you elevate and you're down, you're going to get swings and misses. But if you're up all the time, they're going to see it."
Mitchell and Warren are in the big league bullpen, while Cessa, Green and Montgomery are beginning the season in the Minors. The Yanks do not need to name their fifth starter until April 16 against the Cardinals.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.