Saturday, March 4, 2017
DUNEDIN, Fla. — The Yankees have said there are no favorites when it comes to the final two spots of the rotation. All five candidates will be treated equally and there is no private rooting for one over the other.
Then Luis Severino took the mound like he did Friday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium against the Blue Jays and the first pitch to Kevin Pillar goosed the speed gun to 99 mph. Two batters later, Jose Bautista made Severino pay by missing on the inner half of the plate with an opposite-field, two-run homer to right on a 97-mph heater.
Catcher Austin Romine, manager Joe Girardi and Severino, however, don’t believe that mistake ruined the day, because the right-hander made progress with his changeup and built confidence in the pitch he must master to be an effective big league starter.
“He threw a bunch of changeups today, threw his slider and his fastball was good,’’ Girardi said following a 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays. “He made a mistake, but Jose Bautista has done that a lot in his career. I thought it was progress.’’
Bautista’s homer accounted for the two runs Severino allowed in 2 ¹/₃ innings, in which the Blue Jays got four hits and struck out four times.
Severino said he threw nine or 10 changeups and was pleased with the action on the pitch that he needs to command so well that he can throw it to right-handed batters as well as lefty swingers.
“The first time it was good and today it was good,’’ Severino said.
Severino may be the Yankees #2 starter this year if he can master that changeup.