Analysis

Yankees: Luis Severino Is Making A Solid Case For Cy Young

We recently put out a Yankees mid-season awards article and, unsurprisingly, we named Luis Severino the team Cy Young, but is Sevy also the best pitcher in the A.L. after half a season? Let’s take a look.

By The Numbers

Through 18 games started Luis Severino is 13-2 with a 1.98 ERA and 138 strikeouts over 118.1 innings pitched. In an era where teams are barely letting their starters face a lineup three times through, Sevy is averaging 6.5 innings per start.

Not crazy about old-timey metrics?

Severino is a sabermetric darling as well. Justin Verlander leads the A.L. in innings pitched, with just one more out than Sevy, but Severino leads in fWAR with 4.4. Trevor Bauer is second with 4.2 (but has only started 17 games thus far).

Severino ranks 7th in the A.L. in K/9, 13th in BB/9, 2nd in hr/9 (remember his home starts are at YANKEE STADIUM), and 2nd in FIP.

One of my favorite stats about Severino is that he’s given up zero runs in exactly one-third of his starts this year. Statistically, you cannot lose when the other team does not score. He’s given up zero or one run in 10 of his 18 starts this year. In fact, he’s been the best at giving up one run or fewer since last year:

A Historic Season?

Severino’s under 2.00 ERA is very impressive indeed. He’s currently only second only to Jacob Degrom, who pitches in the senior circuit (and it’s not like Citi Field is a bandbox). It’s not just his low ERA that is drawing historical comparisons. He’s also on pace to strike out 276 batters, which would blow away Ron Guidry’s Yankee record of 248 set in 1978.

The Eye Test

We all know Cy Young voters look at more than stats, and Severino measures up. His stuff is absolutely filthy. He also throws really hard.

As in, he’s the hardest throwing starting pitcher in baseball. As recently as last year, he may not have been the hardest throwing starter in New York.  He’s also very consistent with his velocity:

If you’ve been paying attention, Luis Severino is throwing his hardest in the 7th inning. On Saturday night, Chris Sale and Tom Verducci, unfortunately, reminded us of Pedro Martinez’s legendary 17 strikeout game against the Yankees. While Sale was doing his best to imitate the Hall of Famer, it’s Severino who is looking more and more like Pedro by ratcheting up the velocity of his heater as the game goes on. Sevy did get some pointers from Pedro prior to the 2017 season, perhaps fastball velocity usage was among the topics of conversation.

Big Game Pitcher?

After the 2017 Wild Card game, it looked like Luis Severino might not be a big game pitcher. He pitched better after that game, however, and has shown progress this year. He’s no stranger to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, but it hasn’t been all smooth sailing against the BoSox.

In his April 10th start against the Sox, Severino last only 5 innings and gave up 5 runs. His last two starts against the Red Sox, however, he’s pitch 12.2 innings, given up only 2 runs, and struck out 17. If the Yankees are going to win the division, they’re going to need big game Severino to beat the Red Sox a few more times.

From Third to First?

Last year the young phenom finished a surprising third place in A.L. Cy Young voting. This year Severino is poised to finish in the top five again, and perhaps win the whole thing.

To win, he’ll most likely have to best Trever Bauer, who arguably has better numbers at this point in one less start and is pitching the A.L. Central, a division bereft of talent. Severino pitches in the A.L. East with the second best team in baseball, the Boston Red Sox, and small ballparks like Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Camden Yards, so his pace is extraordinary, however, his path to the trophy will have more roadblocks.

Severino will also face competition from a resurgent Justin Verlander, who many believed should have won last year, the aforementioned Chris Sale, who faded in the second half last year, and reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.

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