NYY vs. TOR: Luis Severino vs. Yusei Kikuchi

The Yankees begin a quick two-game set with their division rivals from Toronto tonight in the Bronx. As I wrote earlier today, the soft landing part of the schedule is officially gone as the next seven weeks are going to be a little more challenging for the Bombers. (Hey, nobody said it would be easy…)

Toronto comes back south holding a 17-13 record, which is good for third place in the AL East, four games behind the division-leading Yankees. The Jays will send Yusei Kikuchi to the mound to face the Yanks for the third time in 2022. You likely remember Kikuchi’s most recent start against the Yankees last Wednesday as he threw six innings of one-run ball in what was his best start of the season.

Actually, the start really was an aberration as Kikuchi hasn’t been good at pretty much anything this season. He ranks in the bottom fifth of the league in BB percentage, expected ERA, expected wOBA, hard-hit percentage, and average exit velocity. Tonight will be his fifth start of ’22 and over his first five, he’s thrown 20.2 innings, allowing 32 baserunners and 10 runs. The Yankees bats need to show that last week’s performance against the Jays’ March ‘22 free-agent signing was just a bad day at the office and put some runs on the board.

The Yankees will send Luis Severino to the mound to try to keep the Jays’ power bats at bay. Most fans would agree that Severino has been good for the Yankees this season but he’s actually been better than most realize. Sevy has held opponents to a .291 expected wOBA (quality of contact, walks, and strikeouts) which is good for fourth-best on the Yankees – only Gerrit Cole, Jonathan Loáisiga, and Jordan Montgomery have a lower number. But his actual wOBA is .330, which is the highest on the team, and the gap between the two makes him the Yankees’ unluckiest pitcher so far in 2022. (And in case you forgot, I already told you who the Yankees’ luckiest and unluckiest hitters were…)

There are no secrets with Sevy: His four-seamer and change-up constitute about 80 percent of his arsenal and he goes right at hitters with them. Although he is coming off his worst start of ’22 in his last outing against Kansas City (which wasn’t that bad as he still posted a game score of 42) his best start of the year came against Toronto when he threw five shutout innings against what’s a pretty scary lineup.

Severino’s first pitch from the Bronx will be at 7:05 PM, EDT. You can watch the game on the YES Network and stream it on MLB.tv if you’re out of the tri-state area. If you prefer listening, you can listen to John and Suzyn on WFAN 101.9/660, and as always – follow along with me @mybaseballpage1 on Twitter and the “My Baseball Page” on Facebook.

Tonight’s lineup:

LeMahieu 3B
Judge CF
Rizzo 1B
Stanton RF
Donaldson DH
Hicks LF
Torres 2B
Kiner-Falefa SS
Higashioka C

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