Luis Severino: It’s Officially Time For the Young SP to Shine

Aug 9, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 9, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

With the rosters being expanded to 40 players and the season-ending injury to Chad Green, the time is now for Luis Severino to shine.

For years, fans of the New York Yankees have been waiting to see how Luis Severino’s impact can be felt at the big-league level. Signed by the Yankees in 2012 as an international free agent, Severino’s progress in the minor leagues has been something to watch.

He may have arrived a year too early in the majors, but Severino looked like the player we all thought he’d be when he was called up towards the end of the 2015 MLB season.

Starting in 11 big-league games, Severino pitched just over 62 innings with a 2.89 ERA and a record of 5-3. He had 56 strikeouts in comparison to 22 walks and 53 hits. Sure there were some patterns of his wildness, but Severino, or “Sevy” as Joe Girardi calls him, was good for the most part. 

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He was thought to be a staple atop the Yankees’ rotation at the start of the 2016 MLB season. But in the months from March to May, Severino had a 7.54 ERA, giving up an opposing batting average of .372 with 12 strikeouts in comparison to 32 hits.

Severino was exposed. The problem with Severino is simple. He doesn’t have that go-to pitch and he only has three pitches, making it hard to have some consistent mix to his at-bats. His curveball isn’t anything special and his slider, albeit has come a long way, is still not a strikeout pitch.

Fortunately for Severino, the Yankees are going to continue to stick to their youth. That is why struggling rookies Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin continue to get at bats. Expect that to be the case with Severino, who should get even more starts with the season-ending injury to rookie Chad Green. 

With rosters expanding from 25 men to 40 men due to September call-ups, Severino was one of the first people called up, as you would expect. As young players struggle in the MLB, the only way for them to improve is to continue to get reps and gain experience. That is why Severino was brought into a huge situation on Sunday afternoon when he replaced starter Michael Pineda halfway through the fifth inning.

Despite pitching just four complete innings, Pineda was on the ropes, having thrown 87 pitches. After giving up two hits to start the fifth inning, one hit that was a Pedro Alvarez RBI double. the Yankees took Pineda out of the game and inserted Severino, to much of the surprise of Yankees fans everywhere. 

Severino then had a wild pitch. However, he struck out Manny Machado. And while he walked two consecutive batters in Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis, Severino struck out Steve Pearce and got Matt Wieters to ground out to end the inning. That’s pretty impressive for the youngster who has struggled all season. Severino was able to get three outs against the middle of the Orioles’ order despite there being a man on second with no outs when he came in. 

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In the next inning, Severino got Jonathan Schoop, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones to pop out quickly in order. In a year where there haven’t been many positives for Sevy, Sunday’s game was at least a bright spot he could look at for the future.

With any young player, there has to be a worry about a player’s confidence. Despite walking two batters and loading the bases for the meat of the Orioles’ order, Severino was able to get out of a jam against some of the best hitters in baseball. That’s a pretty good feeling to walk away from.

With about 25 games left in the post-season, the Yankees are currently sitting 3.5 games back in the Wild Card race. The odds of making the post-season aren’t exactly in their favor, but something that is also important to Joe Girardi and company is the progress of the young players on their roster. That is why Severino could be due for some starts in the upcoming weeks.

The injury to rookie Chad Green was a big blow in many ways. Not only was he improving and gaining more experience against live batters, but he is also seen as a fixture to the team’s starting rotation in 2017 and beyond. And a UCL tear is not something that should be taken lightly.

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However, this opens a spot and a golden opportunity for Severino to prove that he is capable of staying in New York long-term as a starting pitcher. If Severino fails to relish this opportunity, he may be designated to a long-reliever role in the bullpen. But in a season that provided a lot of criticism for Severino, this is the time where he can shine and prove his worth.