Mets’ Luis Severino rebounds in second start thanks to fastball

CINCINNATI — Perhaps a game the Mets want to forget will be memorable for Luis Severino.

The high-octane, high-upside and high-risk righty bounced back from a poor Mets debut — after a disastrous 2023 with the Yankees — in a solid second start of the season.

Severino allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks in five innings in which he punched out seven, typically on four-seamers that he repeatedly turned to as he challenged Reds batters.

Luis Severino allowed two runs in five innings in the Mets’ 9-6 loss to the Reds. Getty Images

Severino retired nine straight Reds from the second through the fifth and did not allow mistakes made behind him to swell in what became a 9-6 loss at Great American Ball Park.

“He was more aggressive, fastball had life and he was a lot better,” manager Carlos Mendoza said of Severino, who had allowed six runs in five innings in a debut loss to the Brewers. “They ran his pitch count up. Gave us five innings, gave us an opportunity to win the game.”

Cincinnati only scored against Severino in the second inning, when first Severino’s defense then his control let him down.

Jeimer Candelario hit what would have been a deep fly out to left, but Tyrone Taylor slipped on the warning track, turning it into a double.

With one out and Candelario on third, Elly De La Cruz smacked a grounder to second, and Jeff McNeil tried to charge the ball and throw home — but the ball skipped past him, a run scoring on a slip and a slip-up.

Luis Severino Albert Cesare/The Enquirer/USA TODAY NETWORK

Severino then couldn’t find the strike zone, eventually issuing a bases-loaded walk to Jonathan India.

But he met with catcher Omar Narvaez on the mound before facing Will Benson with the bases loaded.

“Let’s use that pitch,” Severino told Narvaez of his four-seamer.

Benson swung at four fastballs and missed three times for an inning-ending strikeout.

That served as a turning point for Severino, kept turning to heat that maxed out at 98.4 mph.

The Reds couldn’t catch up, which was an early sign of progress from a pitcher who contains a higher ceiling than any other Mets starter.

Perhaps he found a way to become the Severino who was so dominant years ago in pinstripes.

“I think last [start] it was not that true fastball, it was not hopping at the end,” Severino said.

A somewhat-forgotten Mets pitcher is getting closer to becoming an option.

Max Kranick was on the outskirts of the competition for fifth starter once Kodai Senga went down, only to be sidelined himself by a Grade 2 left hamstring strain in late February that knocked him out for the rest of camp.

Max Kranick throws a pitch during a Mets’ spring training game. Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Kranick, a 26-year-old who was claimed from the Pirates this offseason, has been facing hitters in live batting practices in Port St. Lucie and is close to beginning a rehab assignment, likely this week.

“He’s progressing well,” Mendoza said.

Kranick made 11 starts with Pittsburgh in 2021-22 before he needed Tommy John surgery in June 2022, forcing him to miss much of last season, too.

The Mets saw something in the righty, who made one Grapefruit League start (throwing two scoreless innings) before his hamstring became a problem.

The Mets, who just signed Julio Teheran to be their fifth starter because not just Senga but Tylor Megill have gone down, will welcome any depth options they can find.

Brandon Nimmo, who sat Friday with a tight hamstring, returned to the lineup but as designated hitter and went 2-for-4 with a walk. Mendoza said Nimmo could play the outfield if needed, though it was not needed.

Sean Reid-Foley, who was placed on the 15-day injured list just before the season started with a right shoulder impingement, received a shot “a few days ago,” Mendoza said, and had been shut down for three days.

“He should be ramping up here pretty soon,” Mendoza said of the righty reliever.

Francisco Alvarez, who started in one end of Thursday’s doubleheader, caught the final few innings of the other and played Friday, was out of the starting lineup Saturday.

The Mets are in a stretch of 15 games in 14 days and do not want to overwork Alvarez.

Omar Narvaez got the start and had a strong offensive game.

Mendoza said Alvarez will play Sunday afternoon in a better matchup for the righty slugger against lefty Andrew Abbott.

J.D. Martinez was expected to serve as DH for a second straight day with Low-A St. Lucie.

Mendoza said Martinez “came out fine” following his 0-for-4-with-a-walk day Friday.

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