NEW YORK -- For the second consecutive year, Luis Severino has been selected to start the American League Wild Card Game. The Yankees are counting on the right-hander to turn in a much stronger effort this time around.
Severino was officially tabbed as the starter on Tuesday by manager Aaron Boone, who selected the 24-year-old All-Star over rotation mates J.A. Happ and Masahiro Tanaka. The Yanks will place the ball in Severino's hand with their season on the line Wednesday, facing the Athletics at Yankee Stadium.
:: AL Wild Card Game schedule and results ::
"It means a lot. It means that they trust me," Severino said. "They know that I can be good, that I can be better. I mean, you guys know me: I can have trouble, and the next start I can be good. If something bad happens, it happens at that time, I just get over it and keep working and get better."
Severino completed the regular season 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA and 220 strikeouts in 32 starts, though he stumbled following a remarkable first half. He opened the season going 14-2 with a 2.31 ERA in 20 first-half starts, but he went 5-6 with a 5.57 ERA in the second half.
Severino won his last two starts of the regular season, though he completed just five-plus innings in his final effort on Sept. 25 against the Rays, and is 10-2 with a 2.74 ERA in 15 starts at home. He said that he has missed some spots lately with his fastball and slider, but does not feel fatigued.
"I'm really excited to give him the ball tomorrow," Boone said. "I feel like after some bumps in the road certainly the second half of the season, he's turned a corner and really started to throw the ball better. I think he's ready for this. He'll be pitching on plenty of rest, and hopefully, he can get us off to a good start tomorrow."
While Boone plans to utilize his bullpen aggressively, he hopes that the call won't need to come as early as it did in last season's AL Wild Card Game.
Severino recorded just one out, allowing four hits -- including two homers -- and three runs as the Yankees fell behind to the Twins. But they were rescued by Didi Gregorius' three-run homer in the home half of the inning en route to an 8-4 victory. Severino bounced back to pitch well against both the Indians and the Astros in the next two rounds of the postseason.
"Maybe [I was] too excited, trying to do too much," Severino said. "But the good thing was that we won, won that game, and we'll move on and do a better job. But yes, I think that was the main thing. I was too excited. It was a good experience. Now I'll take that tomorrow and try to treat that game like a regular game."
Severino picked up a win over the A's on May 13 at Yankee Stadium, when he held Oakland to an earned run on five hits over six innings. But one of Severino's roughest starts of the year came on Sept. 5 at Oakland, where he had communication issues with catcher Gary Sanchez and was charged with six runs (five earned) over 2 2/3 innings, throwing two wild pitches.
"I think we didn't set the right signs and stuff like that," Severino said, "but we talked about it. We figured it out, and after that, I think everything was great."
Though Sanchez had two passed balls in that start, Boone announced Sanchez will catch Severino again on Wednesday.
"Communication is so important," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "We've been doing a lot of that. It's very important to have a good plan going into the game."
Yanks general manager Brian Cashman traveled to Boston this past weekend and met with Boone, the club's coaches and support staff, discussing the starting pitching scenarios late into the evening on Saturday. Boone said that he settled upon Severino sometime on Sunday.
"He's not an easy at-bat, I'll tell you," teammate Giancarlo Stanton said. "You guys can say what you want about the beginning of the second half or how he's been, but I wouldn't want to be in there against him. We're going to go into tomorrow ready and knowing he's going to show up."
Should the Yankees advance, Happ and Tanaka would be in line to start the first two games of the AL Division Series at Fenway Park, with Happ potentially going twice against a Boston club that he has excelled against.
"I just want to win," Severino said. "Whatever happens, if I can go four good innings and then the bullpen comes, that would be great. I just want to win and move up and go to Boston and try to win there."