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Luis Severino’s stuff is back with a new wrinkle

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Programming note: Today’s live chat has been moved to tomorrow afternoon.

Earlier this month and before the regular season began, Matt covered one of the Yankees’ biggest storylines of the now underway season: Luis Severino’s return. Sevy is only two starts in, but so far, what we’ve seen has been encouraging, particularly his last outing against Toronto. And not only has he looked pretty sharp, but he also looks like a different pitcher, and for the better. Matt was on point regarding a reinvention:

…I look at his season in 2022 a lot like I did Jameson Taillon’s in 2021. It will essentially be a season of reinvention and a hope for success. Taillon threaded that needle fairly well in 2021. Let’s hope Severino can do the same.

Matt

Indeed, Severino has changed his pitch mix, including the introduction of a cutter (or is it a hard slider?) that we’ve seen other Yankees newly incorporate this season too (Gerrit Cole, for one). I’m looking forward to Sevy’s start tonight against Detroit, particularly in light of how he’s looked in his first two outings. It’s still far too early (two starts, eight innings) to make any grand proclamation that Severino is back, but it’s definitely worth examining some of the adjustments he’s made post surgery.

2022 Storylines: The Return of Luis Severino

When it comes to sports, we tend to clearly remember big moments from big games: what we were doing, how we felt, all that good stuff. Then there are times when we remember random moments of random games that are far less meaningless than big ones. And every so often, we remember a non-playing event with great, seemingly random clarity. One of those moments is the moment when it was reported that Luis Severino signed his extension with the Yankees in February 2019.

When news of that came down, I was in the bathroom of our previous home, giving my son a bath. At that moment, I was so happy for Severino, for the Yankees, and for us as fans. I was also ready for the Yankees to offer extensions to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez; neither of those things happened, clearly. And, unfortunately, things have not gone well for Severino since then. He’s pitched just 19.1 big-league innings since 2019, including his appearance in the Wild Card game against Boston in the 2021 playoffs. That all may as well be history now, though, as the Yankees are counting on Severino to be their number two behind ace Gerrit Cole going into the 2022 season.

Reviewing the Yankees’ 2022 Projections: PECOTA

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As we await the daily updates from the league and union’s collective bargaining sessions, the Yankees made some news this morning. The team will retire Paul O’Neill’s no. 21 on August 21, finally putting an end to its unofficial retirement for two decades. That’s a Sunday afternoon game against the Blue Jays. There’s been some consternation about not issuing O’Neill’s number over the years, so if you want to discuss any of this news in the comments, have at it.

This morning’s news aside, today I’m breaking down Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections for the 2022 season, which were released last week. As rosters currently stand, PECOTA envisions a second place finish for the Yankees, projecting a hair under 94 wins, trailing the Blue Jays by a game. Obviously, signing one Freddie Freeman or Carlos Correa would change things. For now though, allow me to break down some of PECOTA’s individual projections on the Yankees’ current roster.

Game 157: Judge and Stanton. Name a better duo, I’ll wait

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The Yankees’ magic number is down to three. Tonight’s 7-2 win over Toronto and Boston’s 4-2 loss to Baltimore (!!) has put the Bombers in prime position to snag one of the two Wild Card spots with five games to play. They’re now up two on Boston for the top spot and have a three game cushion (pending the Mariners game tonight) overall.

Tonight’s game got off to an inauspicious start, but thankfully, ended comfortably in the Yanks’ favor. Toronto grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first and Jameson Taillon reinjured his ankle and left after three innings, but it didn’t matter. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton drove in five of the team’s seven runs scored, with Stanton’s three-run homer in the seventh representing the knockout blow.

More on this game in the takeaways after the jump:

Sunday Thoughts

Wow. Still flying pretty damn high after that thrilling win last night. Listening to the NESN call is even better than listening to the YES call. What a homer from Giancarlo Stanton! Even a friend who’s not a regular baseball watcher texted me after it to appreciate the dinger. The Yankees are now in good position; now it’s time to sweep and move on to Toronto. Before we see them attempt to do so, here are some assorted thoughts.

The Joys of Sev

It’s only been four innings, but after a layoff of more than 700 days, how fantastic is it to see Luis Severino out there again? First, it’s just great that he’s healthy enough to throw…and throw hard. Seeing him in the upper-90’s inspires a lot of confidence in his health and reaffirms a lot of confidence in his talent. Whatever comes the rest of the year, I hope he can ride into 2022 and regain his Cy Young contender form back in the rotation. For now, though…

The Playoff Bullpen?

While the bullpen has been the weak link for the 2021 Yankees at times, I think we can see it rounding into shape. Clay Holmes, Severino, and Mike King can handle the RHP duties, with the latter two able to go multiple innings, which is valuable in the playoffs when starters have shorter leashes. Wandy Peralta and Lucas Luetge can handle situational lefties, and Chad Green and Aroldis Chapman can handle the back end. That should be good enough and doesn’t even include any rotation castoffs. Severino, given trust to handle a high leverage spot in just his second game last night, seems in good position to pitch late innings, too, which can alleviate Green a bit, something he sorely needs.

The Playoff Rotation

Both these thoughts might be getting ahead of themselves, but let’s be optimistic and assume the Yankees make the ALDS. Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery are obvious locks, though when Cole pitches won’t be game one. The next spot probably has to go to….Nestor Cortes, no? Jameson Taillon has pitched admirably this year for many reasons, but I think he’s at his limit. Corey Kluber is a great vet, but with how much time he’s missed, I’m not sure he’s able to be relied upon. So I think I’d go with Cole, Montgomery, Cortes, and, assuming the need for a fourth, Taillon.

The Playoff Lineup

While we’ve spent a lot of time clamoring for a different lineup, a supposedly optimal lineup, the Yankees just haven’t done it and it’s clear they’re not really going to. With that in mind, let’s imagine a playoff lineup based on what the Yankees have done so far.

  1. Gardner, CF
  2. Judge, RF
  3. Rizzo, 1B
  4. Stanton, DH
  5. Gallo, LF
  6. Torres, 2B
  7. LeMahieu, 3B
  8. Sanchez, C
  9. Urshela, SS

That works, no? Maybe you swap LeMahieu and Gardner if you don’t want four RHB in a row at the bottom, but…I’d be happy with that lineup, given how Gardner has played in the second half. If the Yankees aren’t going to play Luke Voit, this is the way to go.

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