Yankees: Luis Severino, the unquestioned staff ace

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 20: Luis Severino
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 20: Luis Severino /

Yankees ace, Luis Severino has come a long way in a short time to arrive as the team’s 2018 opening day starting pitcher.

Luis Severino, the 24-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, was a lifelong fan of the boys in Pinstripes, idolizing fellow Dominican and former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.

Sevvy was very close to becoming a member of the Colorado Rockies — this after his agent advised him to turn down an initial offer from the then Florida Marlins. As Severino’s friends and family began purchasing Rockies’ gear, the phone rang.

On the other line was the Yankees, expressing interest in the young pitcher. Severino soon jumped on the offer and joyfully proclaimed to his family that he was instead now a member of the most storied franchise in baseball history.

Severino began playing the game as a third baseman and outfielder. His father decided to convert the youngster to a pitcher at the age of 10 or 11. The first pitch the elder Severino taught his son to throw was a curveball.

At the age of 16, Sevvy attended an academy to refine his skills further. He was, rather disappointed in the fact that his counterparts threw harder than he did. While Severino’s pitches were accurate, he didn’t have the heat he knew was required to pitch in the major leagues.

His coach at the time told him to stop pitching — not even to use a baseball, instead to toss a softball. Severino did just that for two weeks straight and was amazed when he returned to the mound how he began throwing in the low-90 mph range. He soon reached 97 mph.

Signing with the Yankees in August of 2012 as an International free agent for a signing bonus of $225,000, Severino made his major league debut on August 5, 2015.

The career 22-17 right-hander was named to his first All-Star last season. But the road to success hasn’t been easy.

In August of 2016, with a record of 1-7 with an ERA of 6.42, Severino was sent down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to focus on fixing his changeup, a pitch that Sevvy admittedly didn’t enjoy throwing.

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During that offseason, Severino worked with another idol of his, fellow countryman and Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez.

Severino credits this work for the turnaround in his career — being able to locate his pitches better and control his delivery. Refining the dreaded changeup has since become an integral part of Sevvy’s arsenal.

Another down moment came in the 2017 Wildcard Game against the Twins, as Luis only lasted 1/3 inning and was shelled for three runs.

Many wondered if Severino would he be able to leave the initial playoff nerves in the locker room and be the ace that the Yankees needed for the remainder of the Postseason.

By now we know he did just that. The young pitcher dug deep, beat the jitters and posted a record of 1-1 through the ALCS and ALDS, regaining his elite status.

What will 2018 bring for the man who posted a record of 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA and finished third in the Cy Young balloting?

Rookie Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone has already shown his support for Severino by naming him opening day starter against the Toronto Blue Jays and veteran southpaw J.A Happ.

In an article written in August 2017 for The Players’ Tribune, titled “My Journey to the Bronx,” Severino stated:

"“I’m having the time of my life right now. The best feeling in the world is waking up in the morning and remembering that you’re a New York Yankee.”"

The journey for Luis Severino as a major league pitcher is far from over. But he’s well on his way to another successful campaign in the Bronx.

Next: Tyler Austin sent packing

The trip will be fun and exciting to watch. Onward, young man!