Aug. 13 was an interesting night.
Mostly because the New York Mets beat the New York Yankees 8-5, surprisingly tying the season series 3-3, but also because Jacob deGrom faced Luis Severino in a battle of two of the best pitchers in baseball. deGrom, whose Cy Young stock is rising, pitched very well and Severino, whose Cy Young stock is plummeting, gave one of his worst outings of the season.
Currently, Severino is a shell of the player he once was before the All-Star break. But why is this?
To say Severino is struggling is an understatement. He has been giving up way too many runs at the beginning of games. In five out of his last six starts, Severino has giving up a run in the first. He has allowed 23 runs over his previous 26 innings.
In his last six starts, Severino is 1-4 with a 7.48 ERA and has given up 11 home runs. But here is where I think the problem stems from: Severino’s fastball (his most ferocious and best pitch) isn’t getting a swing and miss as it did earlier in the season.
Currently, Severino’s fastball whiffs per swing percentage is the lowest it’s been all season at 13 percent (tied with July). For my stat friends: in April, it was 21 percent; May, 22 percent and June, a whopping 27 percent. The fastball just doesn’t have the same late life as it did earlier in the season, and he is not locating it nearly as well.
Severino’s fastball regularly touches the upper 90’s and can even hit triple digits. As I mentioned before, it’s his greatest asset as a pitcher. But for some reason, hitters have been getting ahold of it, including Jose Bautista, who turned a 99 mph Severino fastball into a home run — the hardest pitch Severino has given up for a home run in his young career.
So, why is Severino’s fastball not getting by hitters at the same rate it did at the beginning of the season? Could he be tired? Severino has thrown 154.1 innings, almost eleven more than he did at this point last season. I don’t know if that’s it. Could he be hurt? Boone says no, but could he be protecting his ace? Maybe, but I doubt it.
The Yankees need Severino to get his fastball past hitters again. With Sabathia now on the disabled list and Sonny Gray demoted, the Yankees need Severino more than ever.