Taking time integral to Severino's improvement

Yankees right-hander will concentrate on not 'hurrying too much' to get out of innings

Taking time integral to Severino's improvement

NEW YORK -- The Yankees saw enough in Luis Severino's first 11 Major League starts in 2015 to guarantee his spot in the '16 rotation, downplaying the possibility that the 22-year-old might experience any growing pains that would necessitate more seasoning in the Minors.

As Severino prepares to take the ball on Tuesday against the Orioles in Baltimore, tasked with snapping the Yankees' five-game losing streak, the right-hander believes that better management of his mound tempo will be the key in getting his 6.86 ERA under control.

"I think it's been more of a problem this season, trying to get out of innings too quick," Severino said. "I've been hurrying too much."

Coming off a poor start against the Rangers in Texas that saw him get knocked around for six runs and seven hits in three-plus innings, Severino has been huddling with pitching coach Larry Rothschild to work on avoiding overthrowing.

Severino's velocity has ticked up slightly, averaging 96.33 mph with his fastball after clocking at 95.84 last season, but Rothschild's message has been that Severino doesn't need to blow it by batters to escape jams.

"I've been watching video and talking to Larry -- work in the bullpen to calm down," Severino said. "Everything is going well. My breaking ball is good and my changeup is good. … I have to stop it now."

The Yanks are counting on Severino to pitch the way he did at the tail end of the 2015 season, when he was one of the reasons that the club played its first postseason contest in three years.

"He did show the ability to make adjustments last year when he was struggling," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Now the league has seen him a little bit, and he's got to make some adjustments. But the adjustments for him have mostly been, 'Your command has to get better.'"

Just one of Severino's four starts this year has been of the quality variety -- a six-inning, two-run outing against the A's on April 21. He has been hit hard; opponents are batting .372 against Severino, notching 32 hits in 19 2/3 innings after managing just a .229 mark in 62 1/3 innings last year.

Severino holds A's to two runs

"I think it's taking it pitch by pitch; just focusing on making that pitch and slow down a little bit," Girardi said. "Just slow down. When things are going rough for a player, a lot of times they speed things up, when you've got to go the opposite. Just take a deep breath.

"Know that you're capable of doing this -- take it pitch by pitch and don't make too much of one pitch. And then things should take care of themselves."

Otherwise, the Yanks have Ivan Nova waiting in the wings for another crack at the starting rotation. If Bryan Mitchell were healthy, Severino might already have been ticketed for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but Mitchell's left toe injury late in spring has granted Severino a reprieve for now.

Severino said that he has leaned upon fellow starter Nathan Eovaldi for advice.

"I've had a lot of little talks with Evo," Severino said. "He told me about when he's struggling, he wants to calm down, stay back on the mound and think about what he's doing bad."

One of the most impressive traits in Severino's arsenal has been his confidence. This spring, Carlos Beltran remarked that he has never seen a young pitcher who seemed to belong as much as Severino did in those first 11 starts. Severino said that a handful of rough starts have not shaken that.

"That's going to happen," Severino said. "It's not the first time it's happened, and it's going to happen more times, so I have to deal with it. If it happens today, then tomorrow I have to work hard to get to the next outing and forget about the last outing that I had."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.