Photo: Kathy Willens, AP
In 2016, despite being 0-8 with an 8.50 era in his first 11 starts, Luis Severino kept insisting in interviews that his goal was still to become a top of the rotation starter. Fast forward to the 2017 season, Severino made good on those comments, becoming the ace of the Yankees rotation. At times it seemed last year that he was somewhat overshadowed by the Aaron Judge MVP talk. Severino’s improvements played a key role in the Yankees making the playoffs “a year early.”
Last year, when asked about Severino, Dellin Betances said “he’s composed and confident. Just talking to him, I know he’s always ready for anything. He relishes this opportunity. He’s worked hard for this.”
Journeyman catcher Eric Kratz mirrored Betances’ sentiments. “His confidence in throwing it where he wants to is up there with some of the best guys that I’ve caught.” This is high praise coming from a catcher who has also caught the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels.
Severino said in a recent interview that he wants to be on the same level as Clayton Kershaw. The fact that Severino openly admits this shows that the kid isn’t scared to be great.
Severino acknowledges that his performance could have been better in the playoffs last year. “I got beat up by the Twins, then I came back and had a good game against Cleveland in the Division Series. I can be even better. I can be better in the season, better in the playoffs. I know that I’ll be better.”
In an offseason that saw Severino finish 3rd in MVP voting behind Corey Kluber and Chris Sale, Severino still isn’t satisfied with what he’s accomplished yet. He already has the hardest average fastball of all American League starts last year. Severino also kept the ball in the zone more, resulting in 25% fewer BB/9, strikeouts increase by 28%, while his ground ball rate increased 12%.
I’m excited to see how he manages to improve over last season. With Severino’s drive to be the best, and the confidence to go achieve it, I hope I get to write an article in November about Severino winning the Cy Young.