Another day, another extremely encouraging Yankees game. Luis Severino continued to defy expectations. Aaron Judge mashed. Giancarlo Stanton is looking really comfortable at the plate. And on and on and on. You have just got to love it. Here is the box score from the Yankees 8-3 thrashing of the still annoying Blue Jays.
That was the Yankees’ 102nd win of the season. Win two more and they surpass the 2009 team and become the winningest Yankee team since the all-time 1998 team. How fun. (Houston, for what its worth, is demolishing the Angels as of writing, so they’ll remain 2 games off-pace for HFA. That ship, I think, has sailed. And that’s fine.)
Let’s get right to the takeaways.
1. Holy Hell, Luis Severino: I am going to say it again. Holy hell, Luis Severino. Had you given me the chance to script out Severino’s first two starts of the season, I don’t think I could have drawn them up much better than this. Here is his line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K. He threw 80 pitches–exactly his limit–and 54 of them were strikes (68%). Here was his pitch usage:
- Fastball: 46
- Slider: 18
- Change: 16
As expected, he mixed it up all day as he tries to regain his stuff. If there was *anything* bad you could have said about his first start, it’s that his slider wasn’t quite as sharp as you’d like. That wasn’t the case today, as he did get two swings-and-misses on the pitch (including 2 strikeouts, one of which was looking). It was a mighty impressive performance. The pitch just looked sharp, too.
But the story of the day was the fastball. I cannot say enough positive things about it. Per Brooks Baseball, the Blue Jays swung at 24 of them–and came up empty 12 times. That’s a 50% whiff-per-swing rate! Check this out:
Small sample obviously, but gosh is it encouraging to see Severino blowing his fastball by guys. Bad lineups and all, but our man has straight-up dominated two consecutive lineups with his fastball–and it still isn’t even up to full velocity. He has yet to surrender a run in 2019.
His average velocity was just a hair under 97 mph and he topped out at 99 mph. Yet again, he maintained that velocity throughout. Check it out:
That is a beautiful image right there. He kept his velocity constant and was sitting 98 mph in the 5th inning. There are other beautiful images from this game, too. Here is one of them:
Here is another one:
See pitch number 7 there? That was a 98 mph fastball on the black with two strikes. McKinney was completely frozen on it. Here is the video, which is even prettier:
I could go on and on about Severino, honestly. I am so damn encouraged and amped up by these performances. It’s pretty incredible to think that the Yankees just won their 102nd game of the year despite this being Severino’s second start of the season.
It is going to be so cool to have him fully-rested and healthy going into October. He is so, so good, and at this point, I don’t see how Severino doesn’t get the ball for Game 2 of the ALDS. How awesome.
2. Aaron Judge is Underappreciated: I am not sure if you know this, but Aaron Judge is incredibly good at baseball. But I am here to say that, despite being on this Yankees team, he is somehow underrated. Hear me out. Coming into today, Judge was hitting .290/.377/.710 (172 wRC+) in 122 plate appearances since August 21. In that span, he hit 13 home runs with a walk rate north of 11%. He had hit a home run in 3 of his last 5 games. I know that we’re partially to blame here, with a website and all, but it does feel like this ridiculous run is flying under the radar, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s because Judge is one of those players that everyone just expects to be good. But it sure does feel like DJLM, Gardner, Gio, etc. have all gotten tons of praise while Judge just keeps on keepin’ on.
Anyway, speaking of, here is what he did in the first inning today:
That is a majestic–and I mean majestic–home run right there. Per Statcast, that was a 102 mph blast that traveled 420 feet. Beautiful. Just beautiful.
There are a lot of good players on the Yankees, especially on this version of the team, but let me extremely clear about something: none of them are as good as Aaron Judge. I don’t think it is even close. There is a narrative–you see it on Twitter and hear it from guys like A-Rod– that other players like Gary Sánchez are better “pure” hitters or whatever. It is nonsense. Utter nonsense.
There are 228 qualified hitters since the start of 2017, Judge’s coming-out party. Here is the fWAR leaderboard in that period with games played in parentheses:
- Mike Trout: 25.1 (388)
- Mookie Betts: 22.0 (435)
- Christian Yelich: 20.0 (433)
- Anthony Rendon: 20.0 (422)
- Alex Bregman: 18.8 (461)
- Francisco Lindor: 17.9 (453)
- Aaron Judge: 17.7 (364)
- Jose Ramirez: 17.5 (435)
- Nolan Arenado: 17.2 (465)
- Jose Altuve: 15.9 (408)
Look at our man. There he is, sitting 7th on that list, with 24 fewer games played than the next closet in the top 10. He and Trout, who is a literal machine, are the only two players with fewer than 400 games played. He’s played 90 (!) fewer games than Lindor and has been just as valuable.
Staying on the field, of course, is a skill in-and-of-itself, but I think the point is clear: Aaron Judge is a hell of a player. I’m not sure we talk about it enough. We are lucky to root for him. He went 2-4 with that mammoth blast today, so just another day at the park. Ho-hum.
3. Auditioning for the Playoff Roster: Before today’s game, Aaron Boone noted that while Montgomery was going to pitch again, there was no set plan for his usage because the team wants to check out certain guys before October. I think that makes sense. It was therefore interesting to see Stephen Tarpley, Tyler Lyons, and Nestor Cortes come on in relief of Severino. There is some reading of the tea leaves involved there but that suggests that they could be an option? I doubt it. But remember, Tarpley did make the roster for both the Wild Card Game and the ALDS last year. It’s not impossible. Here are their lines:
- Stephen Tarpley: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 K
- Tyler Lyons: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 HR), 1 K
- Cortes Jr.: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 HR), 1 BB, 2 K
Personally, I think the last 2 bullpen spots will go to Cessa and Loaisiga. This was not a banner day for any of these guys. I don’t want any of them anywhere near October.
- Brett Gardner Forever: Brett Gardner is having himself a hell of a season. I have written about everything I can about him right here in these takeaways over the last few months. You’re probably tired of reading it. The long and short of it is that I love him and you probably do too. He did two notable things today. In the 5th, he hit a soft grounder up the line….and then ran to the dugout rather than allow the Blue Jays the pleasure of tagging him. Hilarious. He also did this:
- Stanton Tracker: Stanton went 0-1 with a walk, a sac fly, and a run scored today. My man Big G continues to impress in his return back from the IL. He also fielded a base hit in the top of the 6th, which was the only defensive play I made note of. It’s possible I missed some, even though I meant to track this. Oh well. Here is the video of the sac fly:
- Another Multi-Hit Day for DJLM: Another day, another two-hit game for DJLM. He leads the league in that category this year. He went 2-4 with two runs scored today, including one on this blast:
- Luke Voit With A Nice Game: Luke Voit was 1-3 with an RBI single, which feels like it’s worth noting only because people seem to think he is going to sit in the playoffs. Dear reader, he will not sit, nor should he. Anyway, here’s the single:
- Get Your Tissues Ready: The Yankees honored CC Sabathia before the game today, and, well, it got REAL dusty up in my apartment for some reason. Weird. I’ve included video of the ceremony, including the two prepared videos they played on the scoreboard. They’re all worth watching. Nothing but love for CC.
An off-day! Today was the final game of the final homestand of the season, which is insane. There won’t be another game in the Bronx until October 4, when the Yankees will host Game 1 of the ALDS. I’m ready for it.
The Yankees will play next on Tuesday against the Rays in the Trop for the final week of the regular season. That’ll be a 7:10 pm start. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, folks. It’s another gorgeous one out there.