The last time Luis Severino pitched, he was throwing a no-hitter through seven innings, allowing only one baserunner via a walk, and hitting 100 mph on his final pitch of the seventh, a strikeout of Nathaniel Lowe. It was his 63rd strike in 94 pitches.
So what did manager Aaron Boone do?
He yanked him from the game, even though Severino said he was “1,000 percent certain” he could have finished the no-hitter.
That was two Mondays ago, and Severino is not going to pitch again until Saturday in Game 3. Yes, that is right: Boone is holding back a guy who nearly threw a no-hitter in his last ,outing. Instead, he is choosing to go with Gerrit Cole, who is on a $324 million contract and who lost his last start against Texas despite striking out nine to set a new Yankees record with 257.
So if you want to wager on Boone and the Yankees, do so at your own peril. There is a term for guys like Boone: “Fun-haters.” Also known as overthinkers. Buck Showalter is another one, and he now has the whole winter to ponder whether having the umpires check Joe Musgrove’s ears for Red Hot sauce was the right thing to do.
His Mets pulled a no-show Sunday night against the Padres, and managed all of one hit. Showalter has his own Severino moment last month, pulling Max Scherzer when he had a perfect game after six innings.
A Manager Who Leaves Well Enough Alone
Boone will be managing against Terry Francona, whose young and precocious Cleveland Guardians were pelted with garbage thrown from the right-field bleachers the last time they visited the Bronx in late April. They are coming off a two-game sweep of the Tampa Rays in which they allowed one run over 24 innings.
Francona has won World Series titles with the Red Sox twice. Boone has won zero, and his Yankees have been eliminated in the postseason in each of the past four seasons, reaching the World Series zero times.
Which of those two guys do you want to wager on? The fun-hater or the guy who led two Red Sox teams to titles in the 13 years since the Yankees last went to the World Series in 2009? The choice here is to lean toward Francona and his team of youngsters, who are opening Game 1 of the American League Division Series tonight against the Yankees.
The New Yorkers will be without closer Aroldis Chapman after he was effectively thrown off the team for skipping a mandatory workout, opting instead to relax in Miami.
Judge’s HR Chase Distracted Fans From Other Issues
Aaron Judge’s chase for 62 home runs was a terrific story this season. But the singular focus on that achievement deflected attention away from a lot of other things that were going on with the Yankees.
New York is opening as a -205 moneyline favorite to win Game 1, as they oppose Cleveland starter Cal Quantrill, who went 15-5 and had a 3.54 ERA and allowed 21 home runs in 186 1/3 innings pitched. (Cole allowed 33 homers in 200 2/3 innings pitched and had a 3.50 ERA.)
Sometimes experience counts a whole bunch in postseason baseball, and sometimes it does not. The Guardians are the youngest team in the majors, which makes it easy to write them off. They are +1100 to sweep the series from the Yanks, while New York is +350 to pull off a sweep.
And since Severino is pitching Saturday in Game 3, we should get at least one Yankees win … unless Boone pulls him with a no-hitter again.
Clash Of Styles
The teams are polar opposites, with the Guardians hitting the second-fewest homers in the majors (127), while the Yankees hit exactly twice as many: 254.
The Guardians had more singles, doubles, triples, and stolen bases than the Yankees, and they won 92 regular season games in large part by going 38-18 over their final 56 games … a span in which the Yankees went 29-27.
So why exactly are they such huge underdogs? The experience is a big thing, and the Yankees’ superior power hitting is another. And the fact that New York went 5-1 against them counts for something, too … although the last of those games took place on July 3.
Cleveland’s team batting average was .254; New York’s was .241.
The game-time temperature tonight in the Bronx is forecast to be 62 degrees, dipping down to 55 degrees by 11 p.m., when this thing should either be finished or going into extra innings. So the cold weather should not be a factor at all when Cole and Quantrill are pitching. Quantrill has not pitched for a week and has won his last six starts, with his team winning 16 of his past 17 starts.
Cole also has not pitched in a week, and the Yanks are 6-6 in his last 12 starts, and Cole has allowed at least one home run in eight straight games. Quantrill has allowed 10 homers in his past 17 starts.
You see a distinct advantage in the above paragraphs for the Yankees in any category besides salary of the starting pitcher (Quantrill made $2.51 million this season to Cole’s $36 million).
And if this game comes down to the bullpens, not having Chapman is not going to help the Yanks. Cleveland’s bullpen worked 10 innings and allowed only four hits and had 13 strikeouts and a 0.00 ERA in the two games against the Rays. And the Guardians likely Game 2 starter, Shane Bieber, allowed only three hits and a walk in 7 2/3 innings of Game 1 against Tampa.
The Yankees have the star power, and wagering on Aaron Judge to hit a home run (+260) is not the worst wager out there. But discount the Guardians at your own peril. And since Cole has been allowing home runs in bunches, Jose Ramirez (+500) and Josh Naylor (both +560) to hit homers makes for enticing wager, too. Parlaying all three of those players to homer would turn $10 into $1,349 at DraftKings (FanDuel will not accept that wager.)
One overriding thought to keep in mind: Boone tends to overmanage the same way Showalter does. And a question: Did Showalter having Joe Musgrove’s ears checked make the Mets look good? Or did it fire up the Padres and give Musgrove and relievers Robert Suarez and Josh Hader the extra mojo they needed to finish off that combined one-hitter and cause the Mets to be booed off the field?
This series is 0-0. The Guanrdians are coming in with a head of steam. The Yankees have the heavier hitters, but a questionable bullpen. This one is a tossup. The only thing we will tell you to assume is that Boone will leave himself open to second guessing. That one we consider a lock.