Tuesday’s start against the Twins in the American League Wild Card game didn’t go according to plan for Luis Severino. The Yankees’ right-hander didn’t have any command, though his fastball sat in the high 90’s and occasionally hit 100.
Brian Dozier started the game by slugging a 3-1 fastball to left field for a solo home run — the Twins’ first leadoff home run in the playoffs. After getting Joe Mauer to foul out, Severino walked Jorge Polanco, then served up a two-run line drive home run to right field off of the bat of Eddie Rosario.
The Twins kept applying pressure. Eduardo Escobar lined a single to center field and Max Kepler lined a change-up to right field, advancing to second base when right fielder Aaron Judge bobbled the ball. Manager Joe Girardi, who was seen during Kepler’s at-bat with his head in the crook of his arm on the dugout rail, came out and replaced Severino with Chad Green.
Green struck out Byron Buxton and Jason Castro, stranding both inherited runners. All told, Severino threw 29 pitches, giving up the three runs on four hits and a walk with no strikeouts. On the bright side, his line score could’ve been worse if not for Green.
Update: Didi Gregorius tied the game a three apiece with a three-run home run off of Ervin Santana in the bottom half of the first. Severino isn’t in line for the loss anymore!
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.