Severino continues trend of sub-six starts

All four Yankees starters have been unable to go deeper than five-plus innings to start season

Severino continues trend of sub-six starts

DETROIT -- The Yankees built their super-bullpen over the winter in part to patch over a concern that their rotation might be populated by a group of five-inning starters, and through four games, that's pretty much what they've had to work with.

Luis Severino became the latest Yankees starter to finish shy of the six-inning mark in Friday's 4-0 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park, permitting a career-high 10 hits as he needed 95 pitches to navigate just five-plus innings.

"Of course, every pitcher wants to go deeper in games," Severino said. "I want to throw the whole game. I want to throw eight innings. Sometimes if things don't go well, you have to get out."

That has been the trend, and manager Joe Girardi has had to temper his expectations accordingly. Masahiro Tanaka worked 5 2/3 innings against the Astros on Opening Day, Michael Pineda provided just five frames in the season's second game and Nathan Eovaldi followed suit with five innings on Thursday against Houston.

"You need to get some distance out of your starters," Girardi said. "I know it's early, and I understand that, but it's something that you have to manage."

The frigid conditions in both New York and Detroit could have had something to do with it; Girardi believes that the biting cold makes it difficult for pitchers to grip the ball, though he said that wasn't necessarily the case as the Tigers peppered Severino for nine singles and one extra-base hit.

"I didn't think the conditions were miserable," Girardi said. "I thought the beginning of the game was better than the end. They fouled a lot of pitches off him, and they didn't swing and miss much."

"I think I was throwing the ball good," Severino said. "I missed a couple of pitches, and I paid for that. My slider was good, but I made a couple of mistakes with that."

The Yankees' defense didn't do Severino many favors. Three of the singles were infield hits smothered by Didi Gregorius, and Dustin Ackley had issues filling in for Mark Teixeira at first base. Jacoby Ellsbury appeared to misplay J.D. Martinez's fourth-inning fly ball, opening the door for three runs.

Martinez's single to center

"[With better defense], he might have been able to give you a little bit more," Girardi said. "But I thought their hitters did a good job of prolonging some at-bats and putting the ball in play and finding some holes."

The Yankees used Johnny Barbato for an inning and Luis Cessa for two in his big league debut, keeping other relievers in reserve after saying that he would be satisfied with squeezing "five or six good innings" from Saturday's starter, CC Sabathia. Girardi said that he is not planning on calling up a bullpen arm from the Minors.

Barbato escapes the bases loaded

"It's something we have to deal with, and you have to try to get more out of them," Girardi said. "That's why we used the rotating system so much last year. It's just part of my job."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.