New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) walks back to the dugout against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at Yankee Stadium.
By Brendan Kuty
NEW YORK — CC Sabathia knows an ace when he sees one. Sabathia was the unquestioned frontman of rotations in Cleveland, Milwaukee an the Bronx for most of his storied career, until injuries and inconsistency forced him toward the back.
“That’s up to Joe,” Sabathia said. “That term is thrown around so loosely these days. But, yeah, for what that term is, he is.”
Sabathia was talking about manager Joe Girardi, who said the 23-year-old Severino had been pitching like the Yankees’ ace before he provided more fodder to that argument with seven sterling innings in a 9-5 win over the Reds at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
Severino didn’t give up an earned run, striking out nine and walking two.
The right-hander made his first All-Star appearance this year. He’s 7-3 with a 3.30 ERA, outpitching expected ace Masahiro Tanaka (7-9, 5.37 ERA) and Sabathia (9-3, 3.44 ERA), though the 36-year-old left-hander is experiencing a late-career renaissance.
“He’s got the stuff,” Sabathia said. “His stuff is very electric. Like I said earlier, his changeup has been a big key for him this year. Throwing that into the mix, he throws 100 mph the whole game with a nasty slider and he throws that changeup in there, it makes a big difference.”
Before the game, Girardi was effusive in his praise of Severino, a former top prospect who struggled to even win a rotation spot out of spring training after a disastrous 2016 that saw him bounce between the majors and Triple-A.
“”He’s thrown the best all year for us,” Girardi said. “You can call him what you want. Some people call him that but that’s the expectations people have for him are pretty high.”
He added, “”To me, that’s the next step. So far, he’s handled it extremely well. The way he’s come out pitching around the break, he’s beaten (Red Sox ace Chris) Sale and King Felix (Hernandez, of the Mariners) and he’s competed at a very high level.”
Severino said he still has a lot to prove before he feel comfortable with the moniker.
“Like I always say, there are a lot of guys here that I know way better. CC got a lot of years here. Tanaka have all year last year,” Severino said. “So I got to keep doing this for 5 or 6 years and we’ll see what happens. But right now we got a lot of guys.”