On Beating Luis Severino And Other Wild Card Notes
Image courtesy of Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsAll 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:
And here's how he pitches to lefties:
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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