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Yankees-Braves Preview

Aug 29, 2015 - 4:26 AM Luis Severino's four solid starts to begin his major league career have confirmed what the New York Yankees saw from their top pitching prospect prior to the season.

How many more he'll get down the stretch - and possibly into the playoffs - remains to be seen.

The Yankees hope to provide Severino with plenty of support after snapping their offensive slump in the series opener when they face the host Atlanta Braves on Saturday night.

Manager Joe Girardi was impressed with Severino (1-2, 2.74 ERA) in spring training, and the 21-year-old got his chance to pitch in the majors when Michael Pineda went on the disabled list in late July.

Severino picked up his win last Saturday after allowing one run in six innings against Cleveland. The Yankees lost the right-hander's first three starts after he made his debut Aug. 5, providing him two runs of support over 17 innings.

"For the first time, I feel like I belong here," Severino said.

It's unclear how long Severino will stay in the majors, though. Pineda was activated from the DL and pitched Wednesday, and Girardi hasn't decided if Severino will remain with the Yankees for the rest of the season and potentially into the postseason.

''I think that's a little early to put that type of pressure on him,'' Girardi said. ''But I will say everything we've seen from him we like. I think he will even get better.''

The Yankees (70-57) are atop the wild-card standings and remained 1 1/2 games back of Toronto for the AL East lead after crushing Atlanta 15-4 on Friday. They had lost five of their previous seven and scored four times over their previous three.

''You play so many games in a long season, everybody goes through slumps," said Brian McCann, who hit a two-run homer in his first game in Atlanta since signing with the Yankees prior to last season after nine years with the Braves. "Over the long haul, I really like this lineup.''

Didi Gregorius also hit a two-run homer among his four hits and drove in six runs, and Chris Young added a solo shot. The Yankees did all their damage without Mark Teixeira, who sat out with a bruised right shin, and Alex Rodriguez.

The Yankees started eight position players who either bat lefty or are switch hitters, something that could be trouble for Matt Wisler should they do so again.

Lefties are hitting .357 with nine homers off Wisler (5-4, 5.43) compared to .265 with 29 of Wisler's 41 strikeouts for righties. The right-hander is coming off his toughest of 12 outings since making his major league debut June 19, as he allowed seven runs and four homers over 2 2-3 innings of Sunday's 9-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Wisler is 0-3 with a 9.13 ERA and 2.07 WHIP in August.

''The ball is getting up a little bit instead of working down,'' Wisler said. "I have to figure out how to pitch to lefties up here.''

The Braves (54-74) have dropped three straight and 14 of 17. Freddie Freeman hit a solo homer and was the only Brave to finish with two hits Friday.

Williams Perez gave up eight runs in 1 2-3 innings, increasing Atlanta's rotation ERA over the last eight games to 8.77.