New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said RHP Luis Severino is "on the right track" despite remaining winless after Sunday's 5-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox.
Severino, who allowed the first to batters he faced to score and, settled down to pitch a season-high 6 2/3 innings, tying a career high with nine strikeouts amid speculation he could be sent down to the minors.
"I actually think the kid is really close," Girardi told reporters after the game. "I know the numbers are going to say he went 6 2/3 and gave up four runs, but I actually thought he threw the ball pretty well."
The 22-year-old Severino (0-5) gave up two home runs to David Ortiz as the Yankees could not complete a three-game sweep, but Girardi was optimistic in what he saw out of Severino, who has a 6.12 ERA through six starts this year after recording a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts when he emerged from the minors last year.
"I thought he made (fewer) mistakes," Girardi said. "I thought he had better command of his fastball. I thought his breaking ball was better and I thought his changeup was better. So I think he's on the right track."
After walking Mookie Betts on four pitches and allowing a two-run home run to Dustin Pedroia that just cleared the right field porch on a 3-1 count, pitching coach Larry Rothschild visited the mound to calm Severino down. Then, Severino retired 10 in a row and 13 of the next 14 batters he faced.
"I feel good," he said. "I feel that my pitches are working. My fastball is good. My slider works very well. I'm throwing good pitches, but I have to be more consistent, that's it."
Severino started the year with a 6.86 ERA and allowed six runs in three innings against the Texas Rangers on April 26. He has since pitched six innings in each of his last two starts, though has not received much -- if any -- run support this season. New York's offense has scored more than one run in just one of his six starts this year.
"If he's throwing the ball like tonight, I think he's going to win games if we score runs," Girardi said. "We really haven't given him much to work with."