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On Beating Luis Severino And Other Wild Card Notes

No player can have a bigger impact on a single game than the starting pitcher. Go out and throw a gem, you've put your team in excellent position to win. Turn in a clunker and your team may have already been sunk in the early innings.

With that in mind, here's a deep look into how Yankee starter Luis Severino likes to attack hitters, Ervin Santana's history against the Yankees and some other notes regarding tomorrow's big game.
Image courtesy of Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
All About Luis Severino

Here’s the stat on Severino that makes me most optimistic: 23. As in, he’s only 23-years-old. Maybe that doesn’t matter, but if you take a look at the rest of his numbers, there’s aren't many things to pick at. He’s been phenomenal.

Severino was the third-best pitcher in the AL behind only Chris Sale and Corey Kluber, so this is really grasping for straws, but he has been much worse at home and has not dominated lefties like he has same-sided pitchers.

-Severino at Yankee Stadium: 3.71 ERA, 15 homers, .627 OPS.
-Severino on the road: 2.24 ERA, six homers, .579 OPS.
-Severino OPS Against: LHB: .667, RHB: .550.

Current Twins hitters have a .813 OPS against Severino, but that's come in only 14 plate appearances. Not much to really go off there.

Another thing about Severino is he’s fairly predictable. He’s a strict three-pitch guy and uses his arsenal as you’d expect. The slider is featured against righties (42.9 percent sliders vs. 7.8 percent changeups) and the change comes out more frequently against lefties (26.6 percent sliders vs. 19.8 percent changeups). He throws his four-seamer 51.35 percent of the time, but leans on that pitch slightly more against lefties. Like most pitchers, that four-seamer is his go-to pitch to open an at bat. He throws that for the first pitch 63.3 percent of the time.

His strikeout pitch is the slider, which he throws 65.8 percent of the time when he has two strikes on a right-handed batter. To lefties, the four-seamer is actually is preferred pitch when he gets to two strikes, throwing that 51.5 percent of the time. His fastball averages 97.6 mph, the slider at 88.4 mph and the change is 87.8 mph. All that data is per Brooks Baseball, as are the charts below. One would imagine if right-handed hitters can just focus on pitches middle in, they should give Severino a tough time. That relies a lot on pitch recognition, however, which is much easier said than done against a guy who throws everything this hard.

Here's how Severino attacks right-handers:
Attached Image: SeverinoZone.gif
And here's how he pitches to lefties:
Attached Image: SeverinoLHB.gif
On the Twins Platoon Advantage

Another potential reason to be optimistic is Severino is a right-hander. The Twins were among baseball's best hitting team against righties, finishing fourth in OBP (.355), fifth in wOBA (.322) and sixth in both OPS (.777) and wRC+ (104). That's not much of a surprise, considering how many lefties and switch hitters the Twins rely on in their everyday lineup.

That onslaught versus right-handers was led by Eddie Rosario, who had a .906 OPS, .377 wOBA and 135 wRC+. Rosie ranked in the top-15 in the AL in all three of those stats vs. RHP.

The Yankees have two very tough lefties in their pen, but they’re in limited roles. Aroldis Chapman is their closer, so it’s not likely he’ll be deployed until the very last innings. Chasen Shreve has actually been even better against lefties than Chapman this year, holding them to a .498 OPS, but he’s a straight LOOGY. Right-handed batters have hit .227/.338/.491 (.829 OPS) off Shreve, accounting for seven of the eight homers he’s allowed.

The Yankees also have lefties Jordan Montgomery, CC Sabathia and Jaime Garcia, but none of those three made a single relief appearance this season.

Ervin Santana vs. the Yankees

Unfortunately, this does not appear to be a great matchup for Ervin.

-Career at new Yankee Stadium: 0-5 in six starts, seven HRs allowed, 6.43 ERA, 1.71 WHIP.
-Vs. Current Yankee Hitters: .272/.316/.481 (.798 OPS) over 176 PAs.

But something interesting about Santana in this one-game format is he actually had reverse platoon splits for the second-straight season. Lefties have hit .228/.284/.372 off Santana over that span, so there’s really no need to try and play matchups as long as he's on the mound.

On Yankee Stadium

At 51-30, the Yankees had the third-best home record in baseball, but the Twins were tied for the sixth-best road team at 44-37. We know Paul Molitor likes to play small ball, but this is a Yankees team that averaged 5.57 runs per game at home. Giving away outs to gain one run seems like a fool’s errand against this team in this run-scoring environment. The Twins have had the best offense in the AL since the All-Star break. There’s really no need to small ball.

Yankee Stadium has the fifth-smallest outfield in baseball, so the Twins defense is not going to be as big a strength as it would be at Target Field. Some balls Max Kepler would easily glide under for harmless outs at home are going to sail over his head for homers at Yankee Stadium.

On Roster Construction

The two questions that really stick out to me are what to do with Miguel Sano and who do you trust as the second lefty out of the bullpen?

Sano managed to return from his shin injury, but was clearly not 100 percent and went 1-for-8 with three strikeouts. Taylor Rogers is the obvious go-to guy to get a tough lefty out, but who would be the second option? Candidates include Buddy Boshers, Glen Perkins, Nik Turley and Gabriel Moya.

Adalberto Mejia would be in the mix too, but he’s not accustomed to coming out of the bullpen. With those options, the Twins may be better served to just go with one of their better right-handers if the situation arises and hope for the best. For what it’s worth, lefties hit just .225/.244/.300 (.544 OPS) off Alan Buesnitz, though that's only a sample of 45 plate appearances.

Additional Twins-Yankees related content at Twins Daily:
Small Miracles: How To Beat The Yankees by Nick Nelson
Ep 336: Twins vs Yankees by Gleeman & The Geek
A Blueprint For The Bronx by Ted Schwerzler
A Gedankenexperiment: Beating The Yankees by John Bonnes
Those Damn Yankees by Nick Nelson

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23 Comments

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Hosken Bombo Disco
Oct 02 2017 12:07 PM
I am looking forward to your game recap, and many more starting on Thursday that will follow!
    • Jerr, nicksaviking, twinsnorth49 and 3 others like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Oct 02 2017 12:08 PM
Hopefully we will not also be playing against the umpiring. Big Baseball will want the Yankees to win this game.
    • twinsnorth49, Danchat, Old Twins Cap and 3 others like this
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Cory Engelhardt
Oct 02 2017 12:15 PM

Moya, he is your 2nd lefty. And this is a great writeup once again. Thanks!

    • nicksaviking, sploorp and Tom Froemming like this
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ashburyjohn
Oct 02 2017 12:33 PM

Moya, he is your 2nd lefty.

Concur, strictly by process of elimination. Brought in for just the correct batter, he's got a chance with that funky windup. But mostly, the other candidates named have proved they can't get upper-tier batters out at this time, I'm afraid. Maybe Perk, if you phrase it to him as "are you willing to risk serious further injury, by throwing 5 to 10 of your absolutely best pitches in two years?" assuming someone thinks he's still capable.

    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 02 2017 12:54 PM
The Twins cuffed Severino around pretty good just a few weeks ago. Fortunately, the Yankees biggest HR threats are almost all better vs lhp. The only guys you would want to face a lhp are Gregorious, Ellsbury and Gardner. And the Yanks would likely hit Hicks for Gardner vs lhp. Point being second lefty might not be that crucial. Hildenberger has good numbers vs LHB as well. Boshers was pretty bad the last couple weeks vs the lefties he saw, but I don’t think one can ignore his career mark against them. As for Moya, I didn’t look up his mlb splits because of sss. But in the minors this year, he was much MUCH better vs RHB. Last year, mostly in low A ball, there wasn’t much difference. Point being, he’s not even considered a loogy imo.
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Old Twins Cap
Oct 02 2017 12:55 PM

 

Hopefully we will not also be playing against the umpiring. Big Baseball will want the Yankees to win this game.

 

The Phil Cuzzi effect will be real in Yankee stadium.

 

Any word who has the plate tomorrow night for Team Blue?

 

Hate it when the Yanks get all the calls but let's face it, it's in baseball's best interest if the Twins would finally just go away.

 

Course, MLB hacks have been saying that all year!

 

 

    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Oct 02 2017 01:31 PM
I hope they carry Moya as a loogy. He struck out Gregorius in an earlier outing.

I think it will require a 40-man transaction first.

 

I hope they carry Moya as a loogy. He struck out Gregorius in an earlier outing.

I think it will require a 40-man transaction first.

Nope. Moya can be eligible as a "replacement" for anybody who's been on the DL for 60+ days (Hughes, Mays, or O'Rourke).  I think Goodrum and Tonkin would be in the same boat, since they were not on the 40-man at midnight August 31st either.

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Tom Froemming
Oct 02 2017 02:48 PM

Umpiring assignments are in. Alfonso Marquez will be behind home plate. He had the lowest K/9 rate of any umpire this year at 7.2. League average was 8.3. This is reading way, way too far into it, but if anything that could benefit the Twins. The Yankees staff is much more reliant on Ks.

    • nicksaviking likes this

 

Umpiring assignments are in. Alfonso Marquez will be behind home plate. He had the lowest K/9 rate of any umpire this year at 7.2. League average was 8.3. This is reading way, way too far into it, but if anything that could benefit the Twins. The Yankees staff is much more reliant on Ks.

Take advantage while you still can. Next year it will probably be C-3PO calling strikes.

    • Dantes929 and Tom Froemming like this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 02 2017 02:54 PM

Take advantage while you still can. Next year it will probably be C-3PO calling strikes.


I have a bad feeling about that...
    • ashburyjohn, LimestoneBaggy, Danchat and 2 others like this
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Tom Froemming
Oct 02 2017 03:03 PM

 

Take advantage while you still can. Next year it will probably be C-3PO calling strikes.

That would make Star Wars day a heck of a lot more fun!

    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Oct 02 2017 03:13 PM

Umpiring assignments are in. Alfonso Marquez will be behind home plate. He had the lowest K/9 rate of any umpire this year at 7.2. League average was 8.3. This is reading way, way too far into it, but if anything that could benefit the Twins. The Yankees staff is much more reliant on Ks.

My first reaction is that he squeezes the strike zone, but I don't know. Could be something else. The game Berrios started in NY recently was painful to watch due to an umpire who wouldn't call strikes for Twins pitchers.
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nicksaviking
Oct 02 2017 03:18 PM

Umpiring assignments are in. Alfonso Marquez will be behind home plate. He had the lowest K/9 rate of any umpire this year at 7.2. League average was 8.3. This is reading way, way too far into it, but if anything that could benefit the Twins. The Yankees staff is much more reliant on Ks.


Or one could read into it that the guys with swing-and-miss stuff will be fine because that's mostly umpire independent, and guys who need strike three called will be hurt.

But I got faith!

Prediction: A nervous Severino allows eight base runners in the first two innings, six of which reach on base on balls, and gets pulled prior to getting six outs.
    • Hosken Bombo Disco, tarheeltwinsfan, FattCrapps and 1 other like this
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Tom Froemming
Oct 02 2017 03:22 PM

 

Or one could read into it that the guys with swing-and-miss stuff will be fine because that's mostly umpire independent, and guys who need strike three called will be hurt.

But I got faith!

Prediction: A nervous Severino allows eight base runners in the first two innings, six of which reach on base on balls, and gets pulled prior to getting six outs.

That's a good point. I've never really looked into home plate umpire numbers or put thought into what they mean. It's really fun to be obsessing over a game to this level. 

    • nicksaviking, Dantes929, big dog and 1 other like this
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nicksaviking
Oct 02 2017 03:26 PM

That's a good point. I've never really looked into home plate umpire numbers or put thought into what they mean. It's really fun to be obsessing over a game to this level.

Especially still into October!
    • big dog and tarheeltwinsfan like this

 

Hopefully we will not also be playing against the umpiring. Big Baseball will want the Yankees to win this game.

Normally I would laugh off this type of "conspiracy" stuff, but I actually believe the MLB/media really wants the Yankees to win this one. They want a Yankees/Indians series. The odds for the Yankees winning the World Series are 8/1, same as the Nationals and Red Sox (Twins' odds are 18/1).

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Old Twins Cap
Oct 02 2017 04:00 PM

Isn't Alfonso Marquez the umpire that Ian Kinsler ripped to shreds after a game in August?

 

Saying essentially Marquez needs to find another profession.For which he was fined, and umpires wore yellow wrist bands for a game in protest of the leniency of it. 

 

Or, at least, Marquez did.

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yarnivek1972
Oct 02 2017 04:13 PM
That was Angel Hernandez.
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ashburyjohn
Oct 02 2017 04:47 PM

I have a bad feeling about that...

These aren't the strikes you're looking for.

    • nicksaviking likes this

 

Take advantage while you still can. Next year it will probably be C-3PO calling strikes.

I don't think I have a big problem with this except I would like to still see the umpire go through the motions.I know there has been discussion on this but it seems like the width of the strike zone would be easily accounted for but the height would vary for each batter.Or would it?

Excellent overview and analysis, Tom. I appreciate being able to read this stuff. All I can off for this game is a tired cliche: think outside the box. With our horrible track record against the Yankees it just seems like we need to try something, anything unexpected. Whether that strategy is based on pitching or the lineup construction, I can't even make a suggestion. Let's just hope for the best!

    • Tom Froemming likes this

 

Hopefully we will not also be playing against the umpiring. Big Baseball will want the Yankees to win this game.

 

prophetic!


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