Once Untouchable, 24-Year-Old Right-Hander Has Been Brutal Over Last 7 Starts, Posting 7.50 ERA And Allowing 11 Home Runs

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Barring something catastrophic happening between now and the end of the regular season, the Yankees will make the playoffs.

And when they get there they are probably going to play in the AL wild card game. Luis Severino figures to be the guy who will get the ball.

But if he pitches like he has of late, the Yankees’ postseason run could very well end that night.

Yankees right-hander Luis Severino reacts after giving up a two-run single to Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium on July 28, 2018. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The 24-year-old right-hander looked like a true Cy Young candidate through his first 18 starts, posting a 13-2 record and 1.98 ERA, capped by 6 2/3 innings of no-run, two-hit ball in a win over the Red Sox on July 1.

But since, he has been a shell of himself, going 3-4 with a 7.50 ERA in seven starts. During his current nightmare stretch he has given up 54 hits, including 11 home runs, in just 36 innings.

“We got to help him get to the bottom of it,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Physically, I think he’s sound. But we got to get this righted and that’s on all of us because he’s that important. He’s so dynamic when he’s right.”

So what’s the problem? Velocity? No. Severino teased 100 mph throughout his four-inning, 98-pitch struggle in the Yankees’ 8-5 loss to the visiting Mets on Monday night. His slider also appears mostly sharp. Some scouts seems to think he may be tipping his pitches. If so, all the command in the world isn’t going to help him.

Catcher Austin Romine said whatever the problem is, it’s not an injury.

“Well he’s still our guy, he’s still the guy we lean to, he’s still the guy we want out there in big situations. Guys go through this, seen it before,” Romine said. “If there was a big dip in velocity or something like that, I think I’d be worried, but I see a guy going out there throwing heaters and throwing his sliders, I think if we could get a little more execution we’d be good.”

The Yankees (74-44) entered the opener of their three-game series against visiting Tampa Bay on Tuesday with a 3 1/2-game lead over Oakland in the race for the first wild card and a six-game advantage over second-place Seattle. They have been playing relatively pressure-free all season, as far as their quest to make the postseason goes. But with veteran CC Sabathia now on the disabled list due to a balky knee and Severino struggling, the Bombers’ mettle is going to be tested down the stretch.

“Things are not going my way right now, but I will work and try to fix it,” Severino said.