How Luis Severino can guide the Yankees to a win in Game 2

luis severino, new york yankees
Jun 24, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) reacts after a strikeout to end the top of the fifth inning against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have their backs against the wall as they dropped a close one in Game 1, but we all knew this series would be a grind. The Astros are the American League’s top seed, and the Yankees are in their house right now. They’ve only won a single game in Minute Maid since 2017 in the postseason, going 1-7 in those games.

Despite throwing their lesser relievers and their worst starter in Jameson Taillon, they still held the Astros to just 4 runs; the offense was what let this team down. Luis Severino hopes to right the ship and knot this series up at 1-1, and there’s a clear path for him to have that success tonight.

Having an Ideal Pitch Mix for the Astros:

The Houston Astros have a 107 wRC+ versus RHP this season, the 9th-best mark in the sport, but there’s a catch. When it comes to right-handed sliders and changeups, the Astros are putrid. Focusing on sliders first, the Astros contact skills dramatically reduce when faced with a good right-handed slider, as they rank consistently towards the bottom of the league in that regard:

  • 36.5% K% (30th)
  • .226 wOBA (30th)
  • .187 BA (27th)
  • .276 SLG (30th)

They’re by all accounts the worst offense in the sport against righty sliders, and Luis Severino has one of the best sliders in all of baseball. Here’s where Luis Severino’s slider ranks among sliders in the league (minimum 100 PAs):

  • 45.1% K% (8th)
  • 41.5% Whiff% (21st)
  • .218 xwOBA (20th)
  • -1.8 RV/100 (14th)

The Astros also really struggle versus changeups from right-handed pitchers, and in 2022 Luis Severino heavily emphasized the usage of his changeup. While it doesn’t grade out as well as his slider or fastball, it does give another look, especially to lefties down and away or to righties, as something to throw them off. It also keeps the ball on the ground with a 1° Launch Angle, and while the Astros make more contact against changeups and do more damage, they still rank as the 3rd worst team in terms of wOBA against changeups.

His secondary pitches are crucial, but we saw yesterday that it doesn’t matter how you pitch if you aren’t going to score.

The Yankees Need to Pick up Luis Severino:

Against Framber Valdez, I expect the Yankees to run a righty-heavy lineup. While Isiah Kiner-Falefa is a wildly unpopular player, giving him a start over Josh Donaldson could be a good idea. He brings strong contact skills and speed and also won a Gold Glove at the position in 2021. I imagine Carpenter is out of the lineup after a rough showing where he struck out 4 times, especially against the left-handed Valdez. I’d also advocate for Anthony Rizzo to leadoff, as his OBP is through the roof in October, and can work tough counts against a Houston staff that is remarkable.

  1. Anthony Rizzo 1B
  2. Aaron Judge RF
  3. Giancarlo Stanton DH
  4. Gleyber Torres 2B
  5. Harrison Bader CF
  6. Oswaldo Cabrera LF
  7. Oswald Peraza SS
  8. Isiah Kiner-Falefa 3B
  9. Kyle Higashioka C

The Yankees lineup just needs to score enough, as if Severino and the trio of Wandy Peralta, Clay Holmes, and Jonathan Loaisiga step up like they have all October, they’ll win this game. Framber Valdez is one of the best pitchers in the game, but the Yankees have a great pitcher on the mound as well. A win here gives Gerrit Cole the ball in the Bronx with a chance to go up 2-1 in the series. It’s the biggest game of the season so far for the Yankees, and if the Cleveland series is any indication, they can battle back.