After missing most of the last 3 seasons, this 28-year-old slinger is still ramping up from a stamina perspective, but his knack for making opponents look silly? That appears to remain intact.
Through his first two starts of the 2022 campaign, he’s averaging 1.4 Ks per Inning — Top 5% in MLB. It’s a small sample but not too far from the 1.1 Ks per Inning we came to expect from Severino in his last healthy season (2018).
Tonight, he gets a juicy matchup vs. the Detroit Tigers, a team whose 24.3% K rate vs. Right-Handed Pitching (RHP) ranks 10th highest in MLB. It’s a small sample but not much different from last year when Detroit’s 25.7% K rate vs. RHP ranked 2nd highest.
Of note — one of Detroit’s freest swingers with a high K%, Javy Baez, is on the Injured List (IL) and won’t be in the lineup tonight. But his replacement — Willi Castro — isn’t much better in terms of strikeout and contact rate, and is a worse hitter. On balance, I feel Baez’ absence boosts Severino’s chances at a stellar outing tonight.
The risk with Severino relates to pitch count. He’s coming off Tommy John Surgery, and it’s reasonable to expect the Yanks to be cautious with his usage — especially early in the season.
What makes me comfortable is that in his first start, he was limited to just 65 pitches yet still tallied 5 strikeouts. Last week, he ramped up to 83 pitches, striking out 6 while only allowing 2 hits. Will they let him throw 100 pitches today? Probably not. Can he strike out 6+ Tigers with less than 100 pitches? Absolutely.
A 2nd reason I’m comfortable backing Severino today relates to the state of the Yankees bullpen. Last night’s starter Gerritt Cole failed to make it through 2 full innings, forcing New York to empty the tank and use 5 different relievers to clean up his mess over the course of 7+ innings.
The fact the Yanks’ bullpen is somewhat drained should extend Severino’s implied leash tonight. If he can make it through a full 5 IP, then I see 6+ Ks as reasonably likely for a guy like Severino vs. Detroit.
For the odds and based on the circumstances I just described — I love this bet tonight! I’m surprised the odds aren’t more juiced.