Game 152: A Nice, Easy Win As Severino Returns

With 10 games remaining, the Yankees are still very much in the hunt for the Wild Card. At 85-67, they sit just a half-game behind Toronto (85-66) and two games behind Boston (87-65). Last night’s 7-1 victory over the Rangers was a big one for a few reasons. First, both Boston and Toronto won. The Yankees didn’t cede any ground. Second, it was something of a blowout victory, for once, meaning that the bullpen was rested. That’s important with an off-day tomorrow and a huge series coming up against Boston. Finally, Luis Severino returned to the mound. Pretty self-explanatory.

Let’s get to all of that and more in today’s takeaways.

Another Fine, Fine Start for Jordan Montgomery. What a season for Jordan Montgomery, huh? After last night’s 5.2 innings of 4-hit, 1-run ball, Monty is has a 3.55 ERA (3.48 FIP) in 149.2 innings pitched. His line actually looks quite similar to his stellar 2017 campaign in which he was one of the best rookie pitchers in the league. This is notable after last year, when we repeatedly noted that Monty seemed to be getting very, very unlucky all of the time. (The numbers backed this up, as his 5.11 ERA didn’t align with a much better 3.87 FIP.) Things really stabilized for him this year.

That’s been a boon for the Yankees. He’s been a reliable, steady member of the rotation all season, often stepping up as the proverbial “number 2” starter behind Gerrit Cole. Point is, when Monty is on the mound, you feel pretty good about the Yanks’ chances – even though they can never score for him.

Last night was a typical performance. He mixed in three pitches (fastball, change, curve) consistently, with a sinker and cutter in there for show, and he did so effectively. His fastball didn’t get many whiffs – just 1 in 9 swings – but he, as usual, limited the hard contact: the hardest hit against the pitch was a measly 92.5 mph. The change (6 whiffs on 17 swings) and curve (3 whiffs on 9) were his go-to pitches for a swing-and-a-miss.

Those three pitches were executed against a clear game plan:

Fastballs up, changes outside to righties and inside to lefties, and curveballs down. That’s the Monty recipe, and we saw it again on full display last night. The only real issue he had was with efficiency, as a 22 pitch 4th helped put a long start out of the question. He left in the 6th, which is probably a bit earlier than he’d have liked, but what can you do?

Anyway, all of this is to say that if the Yankees make it past the Wild Card, I’ll sure be happy to have Jordan Montgomery taking the ball in that series. It’s been quite a year for him.

Can the Bronx Bombers Stay Forever? Last night was a prototypical win for the Yankees over the last few decades: homer, homer, and homer. The Yankees won the game last night because their big sluggers smashed 3 home runs, driving in 5 runs overall. Giancarlo Stanton, who also had an RBI fielders choice in the opening frame, hit this ridiculous, Stantonian home run to make it 2-0 in the 3rd:

After an Anthony Rizzo RBI single in the 5th to make it 3-1, Joey Gallo decided to keep up his scorching hot power streak:

But it was Aaron Judge’s HR that put the game out of reach and was the most welcome sight of the evening. With two on in the 7th, Aaron Judge effectively ended the game:

Just beautiful stuff all around. If the Yankees are going to make any noise at all down the stretch, it’s going to be because of big flies like this. There’s no way around it. I know a lot of people fell in love with the speed demon Yankees back in July and August, and I get it. It was fun to watch! But this is the team’s fundamental DNA. If they’re going to make the playoffs and go on any sort of sustained run, this is the sort of thing we need to see every single night.

God, It’s Nice to See Luis Severino. Judge’s home run was also important for another reason: Luis Severino was warming in the bullpen in a 4-1 game. I was excited to see Sevy regardless, but I’ll admit what I bet most of us were thinking – I was nervous to see his first MLB action in 707 days in a meaningful inning. I really was! The Yankees need to win these games and you also want to put your rehabbing players in a position to succeed. Judge helped mitigate that concern.

Ok, but back to Sevy. What a relief it was to see him pitch, and pitch pretty well at that. He lasted two innings – the second in the rain, no less – and struck out 2. He did allow 2 hits but he did not allow a run. The high-socked Severino was back and it was great to see. People will definitely dive into his peripherals, but I do not care about those right now. Yes, he only touched 95, and yes, his slider and changeup looked great. That’s all worth noting, I suppose, but it has real “misses the forest for the trees” energy. Severino was back on a mound in pinstripes. That’s the real takeaway here.

I’ve said this before, but the loss of Severino in 2019, 2020, and 2021 is the single-biggest blow the recent Yankees have taken. Our man was a bonafide top-of-the-rotation star in 2017 and most of 2018 – the type of pitcher a team builds around. And he’s been absent during a stretch when most of us bemoaned the fact the Yankees didn’t have a bonafide, top-of-the-rotation arm. It’s a real tragedy we didn’t get to see Cole-Severino-Tanaka at any point. (Although I can dream.)

All of this is to say that I am thrilled Severino is back. If he continues to get some game action throughout the season, even in the pen, that’s great. The next step will be to keep him healthy and get him built back up for 2022, where perhaps at last, we’ll get to see him return to the form we all remember from his glory days.

Leftovers

  • Michael King has been dominant out of the pen since returning, and he has a new toy: a 97-mph fastball. He touched almost 98 last night and averaged 97, a full 1.6 mph faster than he was sitting earlier in the year. All we can say to that is that this is definitely something to watch. Perhaps he can turn himself into a valuable, much-needed bullpen piece for the playoff push. Sure would be nice.
  • The top 6 hitters all had at least one hit today, and just Gary Sánchez went hitless in 4 AB. It was the type of offensive performance we expected to see all season.
  • Aaron Judge went 2-4 with the HR, and my god, he is just so, so good. I just felt the need to say that. What an absolute superstar that guy is.

The Yankees and Rangers will play the final game of this series today at 7:05. Corey Kluber, who no-hit them in May, will pitch for New York against Taylor Hearn. This is a huge game for the Yankees, who will want to stay as close to Boston as possible ahead of tomorrow’s off-day and this weekend’s three-game set at Fenway. Enjoy your day, everyone.

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5 Comments

  1. The Yankees seemingly never make it easy on themselves but came back and won a big one tonight.

    With Toronto’s loss they are now in control of their own destiny-it’s not going to be easy but 2 out of 3 against both the Sox and the Jays should put them in a good position for at least the 2nd wild card and a Fenway match up in the Wild Card game. Bucky Dent, where are you?

  2. The 5th inning was very interesting. Gio led off with a single, then DJLM and Rizzo hit perfectly-placed opposite-field singles. Just smart, smart hitting. What happened next? Judge and Stanton failed to hit the ball in the air, instead hitting ground balls right to the 3rd baseman. Fielder’s choice and double play, just killed the rally. Kind of a metaphor for the season – so much potential, but disappointing results.

  3. Baseball is such a long season it’s unusual to label a game as ‘must win’ but that’s exactly what today’s game against the Rangers is-an absolute ‘must win’ because of the remaining schedule for the Yankees (tough), Sox and Jays (both easy except for the series against the Yankees).

    If they win today you could see a scenario where 6-3 the rest of the way gets into the 2nd wildcard but a loss really makes it tough unless they sweep either the Sox or Jays.

  4. Their record is 85-67, not 85-76,

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