For the first time since Spring Training on March 5th, Luis Severino returned to a mound on Friday to throw his first bullpen since injuring his shoulder during. The session was a huge step towards a return for the Yankees ace who told reporters he felt really strong and much better than he expected.
It’s been a lost season for Severino up to this point but he still has a chance to make a huge impact for the Yankees down the stretch and during the postseason in October. He still has some hurdles to climb before he steps back on a big-league mound but now that he’s finally thrown his first pen he’s trending in the right direction and should be an option for the Yanks in September.
Whether that’s out of the bullpen or as a starter remains to be seen but according to Coley Harvey of ESPN Sevy still believes like he has enough time to return as a member of the starting rotation. The most important thing is first just getting him back healthy but if he can build himself up enough to return as a starter he would obviously provide a big boost to the Yankees starting staff.
Over the past two seasons, he’s been the clear ace of the staff, which is something the Yanks are definitely lacking as we get closer to the postseason. Expecting him to come back and be that ace who can go seven or eight innings come playoff time is probably wishful thinking but if he can get to a point where he can give them 75-80 pitches per start he can still be extremely effective.
Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that right now the plan is for Sevy to throw a 35-pitch bullpen on Monday after the 23 pitch session he completed on Friday. He threw mostly fastballs and changeups but he did throw two sliders and said it felt like a normal bullpen even though he was expecting his secondary pitches to be “a little off.”
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Hopefully, he’ll continue to have a good feel for his offspeed stuff and be able to begin facing live hitters and then pitch in rehab games after another couple of bullpen sessions. That’s clearly going to be the biggest obstacle for him to overcome without suffering any more setbacks.
The dream scenario for the Yankees in the coming weeks is that Severino can return to the starting rotation and Dellin Betances can return to the back end of the bullpen. Betances also hasn’t pitched yet this season due to shoulder issues and is still waiting to be cleared to return to a mound. However, he is throwing on flat ground and the Yankees still expect him to return at some point.
Part of the reason the Yankees didn’t add any pitching before the trade deadline is they knew both right-handers were likely to return for the stretch run and when they’re healthy they’re better than anyone they could’ve acquired before July 31st.
The latest update on Betances might not be as encouraging as the Sevy news but the good thing is he’s a reliever so he probably won’t need as much time to ramp things up once he gets cleared to pitch off a mound.