Cy Young contender Luis Severino and sophomore starter Jordan Montgomery will prove vital to a New York Yankees team looking to make another deep postseason run in the 2018 season.
If the New York Yankees are going to live up to the hype that has surrounded this team since trading for N.L MVP Giancarlo Stanton only months after ending their season one win from the World Series, then their starting rotation is going to need to have a huge year. Two youngsters, Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery, look to help carry this team back to the postseason and capture World Series trophy number 28.
A major key heading into the 2018 season will be if the 24-year-old ace of the staff Luis Severino is able to build off a wildly successful 2017 season. After struggling mightily in 2016 Severino bounced back with a 2017 pitching line of 14-6, 2.98 ERA, 193.1 IP, 230 K and most impressively placing third in the AL Cy Young award.
While the right-hander might get most of the attention, 6’6” 25-year-old pitcher Jordan Montgomery quietly put together one of the best rookie seasons for a pitcher last season. The big lefty put together a very respectable 9-7 record with a 3.88 ERA in 29 games started. He finished sixth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
There is always the concern with how a young pitcher responds following an uptick in innings pitched like Severino experienced last season. Hopefully, the bullpen, which many believe is among the best in the MLB will allow rookie manager Aaron Boone to not have to push the youngsters too late into games.
Pedro Martinez caught wind of Severino while he was still in the Yankees minor league system, he was instantly impressed with his fellow Dominican and wanted to work with him. Severino and Martinez worked together in the offseason between his disastrous 2016 and breakout 2017 campaigns. The Hall of Famer helped him make his delivery become more repeatable which would increase the consistency of his pitches. The Red Sox legend who posted two of the most successful seasons in pitching history in the heart of the steroid era and AL East has never been more liked by Yankee fans.
During the end of last season, there were times in which he began to experiment more with his change-up. This is a pitch that will allow Severino to grow as a pitcher. Number 40 currently relies on his electric fastball which can range anywhere from 97-101 MPH and a devasting breaking ball which consistently ends at-bats in strikes out. If he can throw the change-up more often to keep hitters off balance with his fastball, then maybe the comparisons to Martinez can finally come to a realization. While both pitchers had fastballs that reached triple digits and a breaking ball that buckled knees what separated Martinez from so many other pitchers was his ability to have three out pitches. No matter the count or the hitter all three pitches could be thrown at any point to strike-out a batter.
While Severino needs to improve his changeup, Montgomery is looking to rely on his best pitch again, his fastball. During most of his rookie campaign, he was unable to locate the pitch and was forced to rely on his off-speed pitches. It goes to show you the potential in the southpaw, he often found himself pitching backward to hitters due to the lack of control.
Montgomery is a traditional five-pitch starter throwing a Curveball (which he can throw at different speeds for different results), Sinker, Change-up, 4-Seam Fastball, and a Slider. If he is able to begin to paint the corners with his Fastball than that’ll only improve his off-speed pitches. Though he struggled with his best pitch for most of the 2017 campaign the big fella struck out 144 batters in only 155 innings pitched.
In Severino’s first start of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays, the flame-thrower debut went just as expected to go 5.2 innings pitched, striking out 7, and allowing no runs. Montgomery made his season debut Tuesday, April 2 against the Tampa Bay Rays, the second year youngster threw five great innings allowing just one run on two hits striking out four.
Since both Severino and Montgomery are on their rookie contracts they will make $604,975 and $580,450 respectively this season. For a Cy Young candidate and former Rookie of the Year candidate, the Yankees are paying pennies on the dollar for both. The two are not to hit free agency until 2023 for Severino and 2024 for Montgomery. One of the biggest keys for the Yankees is whether or not they’re going to want to pay 2/5ths of their rotation only a fraction of what they would on the open market. In order to build another dynasty, they will need to take advantage of this situation and spend money elsewhere wisely.