By Chris Melore
Entering Monday night’s game in the Bronx, the Red Sox knew who they couldn’t count on in the postseason: David Price.
By the fourth inning of Game 3 of the ALDS, the Yankees found out they have their own weak link on the big stage: Luis Severino.
Severino’s latest playoff nightmare continued a disturbing pattern for the young right-hander. The 24-year-old left to a chorus of boos from the Yankees Stadium crowd as Aaron Boone was forced to pull him with the bases loaded in the fourth inning of a game the home side was already losing 3-0.
“I didn’t feel I was on top of my game; the fastball command wasn’t there,” Severino said. “When you’re not commanding your stuff against a lineup like this, you get in trouble.”
Severino’s final line would eventually reveal that he allowed six runs and seven hits in those three-plus innings. The Yankees went on to suffer the worst postseason loss in their storied history, 16-1, and now their season is teetering on the brink.
“I didn’t think (Severino) was overly sharp from the get-go,” Boone said. “I thought stuff-wise he was OK. He certainly didn’t seem as electric as his last time out.”
The woeful performance marked the fifth time in six career playoff games Severino failed to finish five innings.
BAD FROM THE START
Severino’s playoff troubles nearly ended the Yankees’ season in the wild-card game a year ago. Despite a breakout campaign in the regular season, he was pulled after getting just one out and allowing three runs to the Minnesota Twins in his postseason debut.
He rebounded a bit in this year’s one-game playoff against the Oakland Athletics, but despite allowing just two hits and striking out seven he was yanked after just four innings with a pitch count approaching 90. The Yankees went on to win 7-2, thanks in big part to the stellar work of Severino’s replacement, Dellin Betances.
Severino’s only playoff victory came last season the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians, hurling seven solid innings in a 7-3 victory in Game 4.
The magic didn’t last long, however, as Severino failed to get through five in both of his outings in the ALCS against Houston, including a 7-1 beating in Game 6 in which he lasted just 4 2/3 innings.
ACE OR NO ACE?
The Yankees and their fans hoped Severino could build on his short-but-decent wild-card effort last week, but those hopes were quickly crushed Monday by the Red Sox and now the question will have to be asked: Will Severino ever be a big-game pitcher?
He can go 14-6 or 19-8 during the regular season, like he did in 2017 and ’18, respectively, and get a nice pat on the back, but the Yankees are ultimately judged by how they do in the postseason.
Severino’s 6.26 ERA in six playoff games seems to suggest he’s not the guy you want taking the ball in a big spot. What’s more, it’s becoming painfully obvious that for all the the good general manager Brian Cashman has done over the last few years, the Yankees will have a desperate need for more starting pitching this winter.
Read more columns by Chris Melore