Yankee manager Aaron Boone is already being questioned over his choice to start Luis Severino in the 2018 A.L. Wild Card game against the Oakland A’s, and the game is still hours away. Severino, who finished the season with 19 wins, has ace-type stuff but has struggled mightily since the All-Star break, winning only five games in the second half of the season versus 14 in the first. Despite two good outings in his last three starts, many writers and fans feel J.A. Happ is the better choice, who unlike Severino, dominated Oakland this season.
While it is fairly clear that Boone had help making his choice from the front office, Boone began setting the wheels in motion for a Severino start last weekend when he was scratched from his start. There are also worries that with Gary Sanchez catching Severino, the possibility if not the likelihood for miscommunications leading to passed balls and/or wild pitches is almost a given.
Still, Boone told NJ Advance Media that he is confident Severino is the right man for the job and that he has turned the corner on his second-half woes and will turn in a strong start.
“First of all, the decision, as I’ve kind of talked about over the last week, we felt like was from a position of strength. I felt very, very good that it was a good decision in front of us. And J.A. Happ is a very good decision, had we gone that way. Same with Masa, same with CC for that matter. But I guess in a way I’m going with what I believe, Sevy turning the corner, and what I believe is when he’s pitching his best, he’ll be the best pitcher on the field. I feel like he’s ready for this opportunity and I think he’s very much looking forward to taking the ball.”
MLB; New York Yankees pitcher, LUIS SEVERINO, was a disaster in last year's AL wild-card game when he lasted just 1/3 of an inning & allowed 3 runs - Despite that inglorious history he was filled with confidence after being tabbed to start tonight's 1-game PLAYOFF with Oakland— charles benjamin (@chaleeboh3131) October 3, 2018
Many Yankee beat writers aren’t convinced Boone is making the right call, pointing out that Happ has clearly been hotter and has handled Oakland better. There are also reminders of Severino being knocked out in the first inning of the wild-card game last year. The general consensus is that if Severino pitches like he did up to July, and if he has shaken off the ghost of a bad wild-card start last year, and if he has command of his slider, he could be dominant. For many analysts, that is a lot of ifs to work with in a winner-take-all game.
Boone, who has often been criticized this year for what has been termed as his poor decision making with pitchers during his rookie season, is already taking heat as some writers have alleged he let Severino talk him into the start rather than going with the numbers. Whether that is actually the case or not will likely not be known until the game is over. If Severino shines, Boone looks smart, and if he flops, it will be one more log on the fire that is already roasting the Yankee skipper.