For all intents and purposes, the Yankees are in the process of a youth movement. It started with the trades of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran.
The Yankees will slowly integrate their young prospects to major league action. They started Gary Sanchez as the designated hitter, and they had Luis Severino pitching in relief last night.
While everyone initially was excited about Sanchez, Severino stole the show by pitching 4 1/3 innings of one-hit relief in the Yankees’ 7-4 victory over the Mets at Yankee Stadium last night. He earned his first big league win since last Sept. 27.
The Yankees have to start Severino the rest of the season. It beats watching Chad Green for one thing. It also would give him a chance to develop as a starter with no pressure on him.
Pitching in the minors or pitching in relief does not help his development. He already mastered that. He’s only going to get better through trial and error as a starter.
If the Yankees can’t trust him now, when will they?
He did well last year when he made 11 starts for the Yankees as a rookie callup. He went 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA while giving up 21 runs on 53 hits in 62 1/3 innings. He also struck out 56 Yankees.
The Yankees had big plans for their prized pitcher this season, but it didn’t work out for him. He went 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA in seven starts, and he was promptly demoted to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
Severino went 7-1 with a 3.25 ERA in 10 starts for the Yankees’ Triple-A team. He dominated minor leaguers, which was expected since he already mastered it. For whatever reason, it was not good enough to call him up. The Yankees clearly did not trust him to rush him back.
If the Yankees truly trust him, he would have started few weeks ago over Green, who stunk last night by giving up three runs and eight hits while walking four in 3 2/3 innings.
Severino clearly has work to do for him to earn Yankees manager Joe Girardi’s trust.
Last night has to be a start. He relieved Green in the middle of the fourth inning with the Yankees holding on to a 6-3 lead.
After Curtis Granderson walked and Neil Walker hit a single with two outs, Severino struck out Yoenis Cespedes to end the threat.
That was the turning point of the game. If he gives up a home run to Cespedes, it’s a tie game and who knows how the game ends.
Severino feeded off from that by retiring seven in a row.
But he ran into trouble in the seventh inning. He walked Granderson, and he gave up a bunt single to Walker. Then Cespedes was safe after an error by Chase Headley.
It was tempting for Girardi to take Severino out when the bases were loaded. After all, his reliever gave everything he had. The Yankees manager would have done just that if he was not under orders by Brian Cashman to let the young players get experience.
Severino had the opportunity to get out of it by staying in the game. He rewarded Girardi’s faith by coming up big.
He struck out newly acquired Met Jay Bruce to get his first out. He had Loney grounding out, which scored Granderson to cut the Mets’ deficit to 6-4 while Cespedes advanced to second and Walker advanced to third. He ended the Mets’ threat by striking out Michael Conforto.
That put the exclamation mark of what was a good night for Severino.
This was likely his Yankees moment of his young career. While he did fine last year, he had no pressure to come up big.
Now, he has to show his worth. He can only do this by starting. Having him in relief does nothing for his development. He is not going to learn by easing into his starter role.
One has to figure Cashman will tell Girardi to start Severino after last night. It does not make sense for the team to invest in Severino just to put him in the pen. It’s counterproductive.
If Severino fails, so be it. He has earned the opportunity to try as a starter.
The Yankees can’t treat him with kid gloves. Major League Baseball is a man’s game. This is where the Yankees have to figure out if their young starter is fit to start in the majors.
It makes sense to start Severino now. The Yankees are not a playoff team, so he deserves a shot to establish himself as a starter.
Winning games can’t be a priority for Girardi. Developing players should be.
First order of business should be having Severino make a start this weekend against the Indians.
The timing is right.