Of the several factors that will determine whether the Yankees clinch their first American League pennant since 2009, the health and reliability of newly established ace Luis Severino may be paramount.
In 2017, the 23-year-old righty was formidable, finishing the regular season with a 2.98 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, while also striking out 230 hitters in 193.1 innings. With those numbers to his name, Severino made his first All Star Game appearance and placed third in AL Cy Young award voting, trailing only the winner Corey Kluber and runner-up Chris Sale — two bona fide craftsmen.
But even if Severino retains his recently discovered prowess this upcoming season, he’s not opposed to the Yankees adding another high-end arm to the starting rotation. In this case, that arm would be free agent Yu Darvish.
“I wish. We need somebody like that,” Severino told NorthJersey.com’s Pete Caldera on Thursday from his home in the Dominican Republic. “Yu Darvish is a great pitcher.”
Although Severino’s first true taste of the Postseason wasn’t memorable, he and his teammates still clawed their way through October, and ultimately fell one win shy of a World Series appearance against the Los Angeles Dodgers. A month after the Houston Astros won the world championship, Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman made the biggest splash of the offseason thus far, trading for the reigning National League MVP in Giancarlo Stanton.
That blockbuster deal — which made New York favorites to win the next Fall Classic in select Vegas sports books — has left Severino eager to make the next leap forward, according to Caldera.
“I already feel that motivation,’’ Severino said. “I think everybody on the team does. They know we have a chance to go to the World Series.’’
Severino has reportedly been throwing on flat ground for a month, and he believes his work-in-progress changeup and mechanics have improved with the assistance from Hall-of-Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez. But Severino also realizes that his struggles in October were due to unsettled nerves, and that his mentality on the mound needs minor adjustments.
“I was too high maybe, too much adrenaline,’’ Severino said. “After that, I learned to calm myself and to throw that game like I was in a regular season game.’’
On Feb. 13 — a week before Severino turns 24 — the Yankees’ pitchers and catchers will report to the team’s spring training facility in Tampa, Fla.