Road to Boston Goes Through Bronx
AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD CARD
New York Yankees
Bronx County Grounds
You can't get fired for doing what you're told. At least that's what Joe Girardi thought.
Can it be that Aaron Boone - manager of the team with the most expansive analytics department in all of baseball - is betting the Yankees entire 100-win season on a gut feeling?
I heard the same stupid stats as you - about the A's team batting average against pitches above/below 95-mph, etc. I don't buy it - not in a one game scenario. Go ahead and throw the A's a 97-mph fastball over the middle of the plate, and see what happens. However, I do say Boone is starting Severino because he's the known element here; Happ is Boone's unknown. So if Boone is indeed acting on a hunch, he is taking an awfully big risk.
Brian Cashman makes no bones about it: he wants his manager utilizing every last bit of information his staff provides. That's how Joe Girardi earned the moniker Joey Notebook. I'd argue Girardi's famous blue binder was only somewhat different than George dialing-up Billy Martin on the dugout phone, in the sense that Girardi actually listened. Billy, not so much.
Be that as it may, Aaron Boone is placing the Yankees hopes of a continuing post-season run on the right arm of Luis Severino and his demonstrated ability to win at home.
In the days leading up to Wednesday evening's showdown against the Oakland A's, strong arguments have been made favoring J.A. Happ starting the Wild Card game. He's been the better pitcher since his acquisition from Toronto, and traditional wisdom says you want a southpaw pitching at Yankee Stadium.
Happ, 35-years old, is 7-0 since joining the Yankees with a 2.69 ERA, and 1.052 WHiP through eleven starts, and edges Severino with a 7.2 H/9 average. For the season, Happ is 17-6 with a 3.65 ERA and 1.131 WHiP.
I'm sure Boone is aware of Luis Severino's start in last year's Wild Card game against Minnesota, when he faced just six batters, allowed three earned runs on four hits (two home runs) and a walk, and failed to complete the first inning. Undeterred, Boone is nevertheless trusting his so-called ace. Severino started 32 games this season, posting a 19-8 record with a 3.39 ERA and 1.145 WHiP. He allowed 173 hits through 191.1 innings, with a 2.2 W/9 and 10.3 K/9 average, with 220 strikeouts.
Boone is also overlooking Gary Sanchez's inefficiencies behind the plate in the hopes he impacts the game at the plate. However, that does not negate the numerous disagreements which took place this season between Severino and Sanchez in the dugout for all to see. Only hindsight at this point will determine whether Boone should have gone with Austin Romine - the better defensive receiver - behind the plate.
Perhaps someone from MLB ought to test Boone for backbone growth hormones or management enhancing drugs. If you're familiar with how the Yankees general manager operates, might as well test Boone for other street doping agents, as well.
All eyes are on him.
That said, Boone's mind appears set. Either Severino and Sanchez perform like Energizer bunnies, or Boone and the Yankees fall victim to a dead battery.