Yankees are smart to look internally for Luis Severino’s replacement in the rotation
The Yankees broke some terrible news on Tuesday when they announced All-Star Luis Severino will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2020 season. GM Brian Cashman says the plan moving forward is to look internally to replace Sevy in the rotation instead of acquiring someone from outside the organization.
This is a brutal blow for the Yankees and an even bigger one for Luis Severino personally. Last season he worked so hard to come back from injury and return just in time to help New York in the playoffs and now this year he won’t even throw a single pitch. It’s a cruel turn of events for Sevy but I have no doubt he will work as hard as he can throughout the rehab process to come back stronger than ever.
For the second straight year now the Yanks will head into the regular season without Sevy at the front end of their rotation. They’ll also be without James Paxton until May at the earliest after he underwent back surgery earlier this month. With Paxton on the IL, Jordan Montgomery will likely slide into the fourth slot of the rotation, but the battle for the fifth and final spot should be an open competition.
Finding a replacement for Sevy from within the organization is the right decision, especially with spring training already a couple of weeks underway. There was thought maybe the Yankee front office would look to make a trade to add some depth to the starting staff, but Cashman seemingly shut down that possibility following the news on Tuesday. Partly because there really aren’t many options on the trading block to pursue right now with the season only a month away.
Some veteran free agents are still available for teams to sign, but the in-house options the Yankees already have are much more intriguing candidates. Instead of adding a veteran nearing the tail end of his career like Clay Bucholz or Jason Vargas the Yanks are far better off letting guys like Mike King, Jonathan Loaisiga and Deivi Garcia battle for that final spot.
There are also other internal options like non-roster invitees Chad Bettis and Nick Tropeano who both have some big-league experience. However, their career numbers at the major league level aren’t very good. That doesn’t mean one of them can’t force their way into the conversation, but the three names mentioned above are younger and they’re already on the 40-man roster which should give them an edge.
Between the three the 20-year old Garcia is probably the least likely to earn the final spot because there’s no need to rush him up to the big leagues this quickly. He was dominant at High-A and Double-A last season, but he struggled when he got to Triple-A Scranton so he could use some more seasoning with the Railriders before he gets the call.
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As for King and Loasiga, I’d love to see King get the first crack at the job because I think he’s better equipped to have long term success as a starter. As electric as Loaisiga’s stuff is he’s had trouble staying healthy his entire career and late last season he showed in spurts that he could potentially dominate out of the bullpen for an inning or two.
King, on the other hand, has a career 2.93 ERA in the minors and is known for his ability to pound the strike zone and induce a lot of ground balls. Loaisiga has better stuff but in his eight career starts he’s struggled to go deep into games because his pitch count rises quickly and he nibbles too often instead of attacking hitters.
With King, there’s also less concern about him breaking down than there is with Loaisiga. He fits the mold of your usual big-league starter at 6’3, 210 lbs while Loaisiga only stands at 5’11, 165 lbs and has a history of arm issues.
It’s way too early to predict who is going to come away with the job and replace Sevy but the Yankees should feel pretty good about the options they have, at least to start the season. It would be great if one of these guys can win the job and run with it for the entire season but let’s not forget about who the Yanks could welcome back within the first two months.
Paxton might be back at some point in May and by mid-June, we could see Domingo German return from his suspension. By that point, the aforementioned Garcia or another top prospect like Clarke Schmidt could also be considered for a call-up so the Yanks still have a lot of depth to work with.
There may come a time in July when Cashman and company look to add another starter via trade when more big names become available but now is not the time to go that route.