Yankees starter Luis Severino lasted three-plus innings last night and, thanks to a lack of anyone picking him up when he left the game in a jam, ended up surrendering six runs on seven hits and two walks with two strikeouts. He wasn’t sharp at all, with Red Sox batters barreling him up early and often. That happens to even the best pitchers sometimes, especially against outstanding offensive teams like the Red Sox. But was something else going on last night?
TBS broadcaster Ron Darling thought so. He said that Severino was mistaken about what time the game was supposed to start — thinking it was an 8:07 start instead of a 7:40 — and warmed up too late.
During the game, TBS showed video of Severino playing catch in the outfield as pitching coach Larry Rothschild walks up to him to tell him something. Severino was later shown first taking the bullpen mound at 7:32, only eight minutes before game time and, as it turned out, ten minutes before he threw the game’s first pitch. Darling made a point to say that Severino’s warmup was truncated and might’ve affected him. Later YES analyst and former Yankees catcher John Flaherty agreed, saying “There is no way you can go on a big league bullpen mound eight minutes before the scheduled first pitch and expect to be ready.”
Severino, however, took strong issue with Darling’s suggestion that the warmup was rushed, claiming that he always goes out to the outfield to throw 20 minutes before a game and then takes the bullpen mound “ten, eight minutes” before a game:
“If my pitching coach said it, you could believe it. Whatever [Darling] said, he’s not always in my bullpen; how would he know what time I go out? I came out 20 minutes before the game like I usually do. I don’t know why he would say that . . . I always go into the bullpen 10, eight minutes before the game. I warm up quick, so that’s always my plan.”
Rothschild later had Severino’s back on that, saying that there was no doubt that he knew when the game was to start, having told Severino the start time in the clubhouse well before talking to him on the field. Both he and manager Aaron Boone also made a point to say that whatever struggles Severino had, it was not because of his pregame routine. He was just off.
Still, Rothschild and Boone were not totally unequivocal on the matter. Rothschild:
“I think that’s a little bit blown out of proportion. In the playoffs, the routine is always [different] because of introductions and everything. He does a lot inside and he comes out a little bit later than most starters.”
“I’m not saying — I’m saying he had his — he had plenty of warmup,” Boone said. “He had what he intended to go down there and get done, and Larry said he was able to get through his normal routine, where he faces a couple hitters and everything. So it wasn’t an issue.”
At this point I suppose it’s academic, as the shellacking is now in the rear-view mirror.
To the extent it remains a controversy today, however, I’d say that, on the one hand, you can believe Severino if/when he says that he had his totally normal routine, assuming nothing else comes out to rebut that, because we really don’t know better than he does.
On the other hand, however, if, as Rothschild and Boone obliquely imply, he did have a shorter than normal routine, don’t buy the “but it didn’t matter” narrative, because I have never, ever heard a starting pitcher claim that his pregame routine was not important. Quite to the contrary, actually. Most of these guys regiment their start days from the time they wake up until first pitch. A rushed warmup session would catastrophic for some of these guys.
Is Severino one of those guys? I dunno, but his night was catastrophic either way.