Time is running out in the 2017 Major League Baseball regular season and the New York Yankees have to start being realistic.
There are two weeks to go before the playoffs start and it doesn't look like the Boston Red Sox can be caught in the American League East divisional race barring a sizable swoon in play.
Entering Monday night, New York sat three games behind Boston with 12 games left while the Red Sox play nine of their final 13 games against teams with losing records.
While divisional title hopes are dim, the Yankees have a stronghold on the American League Wild Card. With a four-game lead over the second-place Minnesota Twins and a six-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels, a postseason spot tantalizingly close to being clinched as their magic number was down to eight on Monday.
It looks as though the Yankees are already looking ahead to the single-elimination Wild Card Game that will be played on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at least with their pitching staff.
And it looks like Luis Severino would be the arm of choice.
"He could pitch Friday or he could pitch Wednesday, but right now he is scheduled for Friday," Yankees manager Joe Girardi told the media on Sunday. "If he starts on Wednesday, that would be three starts and he would be available on the final weekend. Right now, we are planning on [Masahiro] Tanaka on Wednesday, but I could change my mind."
Should the Yankees keep to that schedule, Severino would start twice before the AL Wild Card Game, ensuring he gets plenty of rest before their first postseason game since 2015.
It's a no-brainer to start the 23-year-old in what would be the team's biggest game of the year. Garnering his first All-Star selection this season, Severino is 13-6 with a 2.93 ERA that ranks third in the American League behind Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians and Chris Sale of the Red Sox.
What's even better for the Yankees is that it looks as though Severino is heating up at just the right time as he's been stellar in his last three starts:
- Sept. 3 vs. Red Sox (Win)- 6.0 innings pitched, 2 hits, 0 earned runs, 1 run, 9 strikeouts
- Sept. 9 at Rangers (W)- 7.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 10 K's
- Sept. 15 vs. Orioles (W)- 8.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 7 K's
Severino has not pitched against the Twins this season, which is the team currently slated to face the Yankees in the Wild Card Game.