Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Luis Severino Cruises to Lead Yankees over Rays

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Luis Severino Cruises to Lead Yankees over Rays

Article excerpt

Last year, think about telling a Yankee fan that Luis Severino will start in the American League Wild Card game. Think about that bewildered reaction.

Severino looked like a potential lost cause as a starter a season ago, posting a porous 3-8 record and 5.83 ERA in 11 starts. His future looked to be in the bullpen. Now, he is an MLB All-Star and the ace of the Yankees rotation.

The righty capped off his breakout 2017 regular season Wednesday, frosting the Tampa Bay Rays in the Yankees' 6-1 win. Severino struck out nine while yielding four hits and one run over six innings in his final audition to earn the start in a possible AL Wild Card Game next week. His 230 strikeouts on the year ties him with CC Sabathia in 2013 for the third most strikeouts in a single season in franchise history.

"It's been great, you know, I've had a lot of fun," Severino said. "When you're having fun and the team is hitting great, your pitches start to come together."

The electric 23-year-old will enter the postseason with a 14-6 record and sub-3.00 ERA, and he has been even better down the stretch. He allowed one run or fewer for the 10th time in 14 starts since the Midsummer Classic. He is 9-2 over that span, but will he get an opportunity to take the mound in the playoffs?

While manager Joe Girardi acknowledged that Wednesday was indeed Severino's final start of the regular season, he would not commit to him starting a potential sudden death playoff game on Tuesday.

"Let's worry about today," Girardi said prior to Wednesday's game. "If he pitches Wednesday, then obviously the next day he would be available to pitch would be Monday."

Severino looks to be the favorite to take the hill that night along with Sonny Gray, who would still be on normal rest after his scheduled start in the series finale with Tampa Bay on Thursday. The one-game playoff scenario became more likely after Boston's win Wednesday over Toronto, as the Red Sox still hold a three-game lead with four contests remaining.

Yet, Severino, who says he has never pitched a playoff game at any level in his life, is up for the challenge. …

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