Friday, March 18, 2016

Quick Pitch: Tanaka, Severino and Refsnyder

Spring Training Game 16: Yankees 7, Pirates 2 (Yanks' spring record: 6-8-2)

Luis Severino
Photo: Arturo Pardavila III
The New York Yankees presumed Opening Day starter, Masahiro Tanaka, endured his first rough outing of the spring, while future ace in the making, Luis Severino sparkled once again in Thursday’s matinee.

Tanaka opened the spring with a five scoreless innings, but he threw 57 pitches in just two innings and allowed two runs on four hits Thursday, including a home run to Andrew McCutchen. Severino looked rusty in his first start of the spring (five earned runs), but has now made three straight scoreless appearances since (10 2/3 innings) with 12 strikeouts and zero walks.

Sticking to the “it’s-too-early-to-tell” mantra, we are talking about seven total innings of work for Tanaka and 12 for Severino. Tanaka has stated he has been disappointed in his fastball the past two starts and seems to understand that things need to get better quickly since he has just three starts left before Opening Day.

I’d temper expectations for Severino, not because I don’t feel confident in his abilities – I certainly do – but more so because he is young and inexperienced and he’ll have his growing pains. Nonetheless, it’s great to see Severino pretty much picking up where he left off 2015 and I’m excited to see him continue to blossom.

Refsnyder making his case

I have to hand it to Rob Refsnyder. The young man is resilient and determined to make the Yankees in any way possible. The Yankees have transitioned him from the outfield to second base, and this spring asked him to learn third base even though he still needs work at second.

The Yankees like Refsnyder’s right-handed bat – the reason he is still around – and they must be impressed with his demeanor. Refsnyder openly said he would do whatever it took to make the squad this season. He’s performed OK at the plate – 5-for-22, .701 OPS and he hit his first home run Thursday – and maybe more importantly he’s shown an ability to be serviceable at third base while showing no signs of it affecting his learning curve at second base.

In my view, Refsnyder makes the team provided he stays healthy and the wheels don’t come completely off from this point on.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.