Severino gaining Yanks' trust, confidence
ATLANTA -- Luis Severino has only made five turns through the big league rotation, but the Yankees are already impressed by how well the rookie right-hander seems to fit into their clubhouse. To put it simply, they have become convinced that he belongs.
Severino hurled six scoreless innings to win his second consecutive start on Saturday night, limiting the Braves to four hits and three walks in the Yankees' 3-1 victory at Turner Field. The Yanks' top prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, Severino seems to possess maturity well beyond his 21 years.
"He's pretty quiet. He's not someone that's loud and you always hear from," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He just goes about his business the right way. He's prepared every day, he knows where he is supposed to be and he does his work. I think he's handled it well."
Severino's outing lowered his ERA to 2.17, the lowest by a Yankee whose first five games were all starts since Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez in 1998. Speaking through an interpreter, Severino said that his fastball, slider and changeup were all on point in Atlanta.
"Everything was working for me today," Severino said. "I feel super good today. I feel really good."
"He was lights out," catcher Brian McCann said. "He did whatever he wanted to do tonight. Mixed it up, bounced in and out, up and down, kept them off-balance. Great performance."
In the hours before his start, Severino plopped in front of his locker with a pair of bulky headphones, later saying that he was relaxing by listening to bachata music. That cool demeanor serves him well; observing him this month in the Majors, teammate Didi Gregorius said that Severino does not carry himself like your average rookie.
"No, not really," Gregorius said. "He's pounding the strike zone, and that's what we want. I think every pitcher wants to pound the strike zone and get ahead. He's doing the best he can, goes out there, and he's doing amazing."
Severino pitched out of trouble in the first inning by getting Nick Swisher to ground into a double play, then struck out Christian Bethancourt in the fourth to strand two men aboard. He also induced a key ground ball from Jace Peterson ending the sixth, giving the Yanks a tough call to make for the seventh under National League rules.
"We had some opportunities offensively, but [Severino] has a pretty darn good arm," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That's what they're supposed to look like right there."
To the Yanks' surprise, Severino showed he could also handle the bat -- he lined out on a bullet to deep right his first time up, then jetted down the line on a routine grounder in the fifth inning, saying with a laugh that he was just trying to surprise the Braves.
With two on and one out in the seventh, Girardi opted for Alex Rodriguez to pinch-hit for Severino, saying that if it was an American League game, Severino would have continued. Girardi said that he has liked Severino's ability to throw strikes and make adjustments in-game.
"I feel good about when he takes the mound," Girardi said. "I like what he's done from day one. His starts have not been necessarily easy starts. He's handled it extremely well. He continues to impress us."