Severino exhibits poise in debut
Top prospect fans seven, makes solid impression
NEW YORK -- The evening's happiest snapshot, as seen through Luis Severino's eyes, came as the right-hander passed through the bullpen gate and started his pregame walk across the Yankee Stadium outfield. His teammates seemed to be excited by everything that followed.
Rated as the Yankees' No. 1 prospect by MLB.com, Severino made a good first impression in his Major League debut on Wednesday, striking out seven and permitting just two hits without a walk over five innings in a 2-1 loss to the Red Sox.
"I feel the same way I did in Triple-A. It's the same baseball," Severino said through an interpreter. "All I was doing was trying to get people out."
Dialing his fastball up to 97 mph while mixing in a plus changeup and developing slider, Severino kept the Red Sox's lineup off-balance through his 94-pitch effort, permitting two runs (one earned). Working in front of a crowd of 47,489, manager Joe Girardi said that he thought Severino exhibited poise.
"I didn't think that the surroundings would affect him a whole lot," Girardi said. "I saw that in Spring Training when he first came in. He went to work and didn't seem overwhelmed by the situation there. Obviously it's a lot different here, but that made me feel pretty good about it."
Severino's first pitch was a 94-mph fastball called strike to Brock Holt, and his first strikeout was a called third strike on Xander Bogaerts; both balls were rolled into the dugout for keepsakes. Severino also accepted an unwanted "first" in the fourth inning, grooving a fastball to David Ortiz that landed in the right-field bleachers.
"In this game," Severino said, "when you miss the pitch, you pay for it."
Lesson learned. Otherwise, Severino showed the Yankees some of what had made him so dominant with their top farm clubs this season, where he was 7-0 with a 1.91 ERA in 11 starts at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Catcher John Ryan Murphy caught Severino in a few bullpen sessions this spring, but receiving him under the bright lights was a completely different experience.
"He was awesome," Murphy said. "He definitely belongs; that's one of the first things that stands out. He's a competitor. He wants to be the guy in control. ... I think overall, he should be really proud of himself."
Murphy said that he didn't expect Severino's fastball to explode out of his hand as much as it did, but noted that his slider could still be more consistent. It's something he'll have time to work on while the Yanks wait for Michael Pineda to return in September.
"There's a lot of improvements that can be made, and I think he's going to end up being really good, really soon," Murphy said.
"I think he's going to be huge for us," said Chase Headley. "When you go out and trade for somebody who's a big addition or bring up someone with that kind of ability, it can really swing the needle. So we're glad to have him."
The youngest pitcher to make a start in the Majors this season at 21 years and 166 days, Severino also earned a fan in Big Papi, who was just 17 years old and playing in Rookie ball when Severino was a newborn.
"That young kid, he's got good stuff, man," Ortiz said. "I think he's going to be pretty good. He has a good fastball. He's got that cutter, the changeup. I think at the beginning of the game, he was kind of missing location a little bit. Other than that, his stuff is very explosive. Very good."