The New York Yankees nickname, the Bronx Bombers, has been well earned over the years. Pitching has always taken a backseat to the offense. In 2018, though, the team has a pitcher who is well on his way to adding his name to a very narrow list of only five other Yankees.
Over the years, the Yankees as most everyone knows have won twenty-seven World Series titles, more than anyone in Major League Baseball. Over the course of their history, Yankees players have also won 22 Most Valuable Player awards, the first being Babe Ruth in 1923 and the last in 2007 went to Alex Rodriguez. The team also lists nine players who have been selected Rookie Of The Year, the previous being Aaron Judge last season.
And as you go through the list of the Yankees best pitchers over the years, including the likes of Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Mel Stottlemyre, Randy Johnson, et al, you would think that somewhere along the lengths of their career, a Cy Young Award would be on display in their home today.
That’s not the case, though, and oddly only five Yankees have achieved the award. Before you check the list below, see how many of the five you can name.
Note that in the beginning the award was not divided between the two leagues.
Honestly, I’m not sure why this is a big deal. The Yankees are a team leading the league in home runs and runs. And yet, it seems like we can’t let a superb pitcher like Luis Severino get less than his due, even if it turns out to be only from the Yankees faithful.
Luis Severino twirled another gem the other night, this time a complete game shutout again the World Champion Houston Astros, a solid hitting team in their own right. Improving his record to 5-1, Luis Severino is joining a class of pitchers not only heralded among Yankees but within all of major league baseball.
At this moment, when you look at the 2018 pitching stats, the Houston Astros continue to be all over the listings with Justin Verlander, Charlie Morton, and Gerrit Cole among the leaders. Luis Severino appears at number eleven, outside even the top ten.
And the list doesn’t even include James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners who just struck out sixteen in a seven-inning masterpiece in which he had an astounding 25 swings and misses at (primarily) his fastball, which was moving in the strike zone at unseen levels.
So, the competition is excellent, but so is Luis Severino. He has learned in two short seasons under the tutelage of Pedro Martinez, an oddity when you think about it, to harness his stuff and control his demeanor on the mound.
Luis Severino is proving he is fearless and pays little attention to the hitter stepping into the box, effectively saying, “Here’s my best stuff, it’s on you to hit it.” Alex Rodriguez also stepped in on Fox Sports to break down Severino’s emergence from a thrower to a pitcher (video).
This is a dimension of the Yankees pitching strategy and coaching they have tried to convey to how many pitchers who have failed to receive the message before. A short list might even include Sonny Gray, who possibly is working out of his funk as witnessed by his last start against the Astros, taking the loss but pitching well.
Given the Yankees history since day one, it would be fair to say an accent has not been placed on pitching. During the offseason, Brian Cashman ignored the possible need to add another top-line starting pitcher to the staff, instead concentrating on bringing in Giancarlo Stanton and the money he eats up, while also backfilling the infield with Brandon Drury and Neil Walker.
That could change, and it probably will change in July when the meat market opens, and the trading deadline approaches. To comfort the Yankees this time, they will not be looking for the ace Sonny Gray was thought to be.
And that’s because they already have a certified blue-ribbon ace in Luis Severino who, barring injury (heaven forbid), will continue to be at or near the top of the league leaders in the American League.
Cy Young or not, Luis Severino is knocking on the door this season and probably for many more to come, and as such is on the verge of entering the most rarified air in the history of the New York Yankees.
I’m all in, and Luis Severino is one of those between the lines baseball stories that adds an element of intrigue that demands following as the season moves forward.