With his first postseason start Friday night, Luis Severino took his place as a member of a rather rare Yankees club: pitchers who have won World Series titles since 1996.
Severino now joins Andy Pettitte and Orlando Hernandez, both of whom won titles in their respective careers for the Yankees. Harvey Ensberg was also a big league ace on the New York team, but he was such a flamethrower that he only pitched a single game for the Yankees in his 11-year career.
Most of the pitchers who won Yankees titles since 1998 have been in the rotation. The club has gone on to win championships in three different pitcher-dominated eras: Derek Jeter’s final years, Mariano Rivera’s good-but-not-great-by-standards career and the current resurgent offseason, under manager Aaron Boone.
These are all opportunities to honor the old Yankees, as far as a strategy for the future is concerned.
To this point in this postseason, however, we are now in the first golden era of the current Yankee squad.
These are the Yankees teams of old, built around an extremely deep pitching staff and an abundant power. Jeter’s swan song, 2007, is remembered by Yankees fans for its often-crescendo postseason. Pettitte and Rivera later led the Yankees to championships in 2009 and 2009. 2009 also happens to be the last year, Yankees fans might remember, that were full-time pinstriped stars Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, due to the fact that a “rookie hazing” rule effectively prevented the 20-something duo from participating in the postseason.
With the farm system, when one of these Yankees faced opposition on the field, he often ended up on the other side. If you want to compare this to the rest of the modern Yankees, since the modern era is in its 16th season, you have to go back to the 1926 Boston Red Sox, which included Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Honus Wagner in its lineup.
Some Yankees fans will start to celebrate the fact that Yankees fans have been spoiled for years now by glorious rallies that have ended, without much to complain about, in a Yankee championship parade. These Yankees supporters will seize upon Jeter’s day as embodying the excellence and never-stop-doing-it mentality of a strong Yankees franchise.
The truth is that the Yankees are as good as any team in baseball now. They can throw any pitcher they want in the big game and come away with a victory. These Yankees were certainly right around championship caliber for about half of their prior 20 seasons, but the type of dominance they currently show has not been seen since the teams before Steinbrenner.
There are few reasons to be skeptical about a Yankees World Series title in 2019. Whether that comes with a current Yankee player on the roster or one of the franchise’s illustrious past “skipper” stars, those who watch this great team every day have every reason to believe that they can win another championship. As for the idea that these Yankees’ successes are playing out of date, consider that so many of these champions this season are older than the collective ages of the current team.
Not every postseason starts off with a victory for the Yankees. The Yankees had three grueling nine-game series against the Red Sox this season, winning three out of seven and falling just short of October.
Severino’s playoff debut Friday night couldn’t have gone much better.
Pettitte, Rivera and Ensberg no longer hold titles with the Yankees, and Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia are long gone, making Severino and his peers the new ones.
Their chances of adding to the club’s championships should not be questioned. It would appear that the current Yankees — the kind of Yankees to raise playoff fortunes over the course of the postseason — are the sort of team that can and should live up to the standard set by the team’s former stars.