Yankees: 3 bold predictions for 2021 season on Opening Day

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 28: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Former New York Yankee Mariano Rivera has a laugh with Gary Sanchez #24 after throwing the ceremonial first pitch during Opening Day against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on March 28, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the Orioles 7-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 28: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Former New York Yankee Mariano Rivera has a laugh with Gary Sanchez #24 after throwing the ceremonial first pitch during Opening Day against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on March 28, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the Orioles 7-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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Luis Severino #40 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

2. Luis Severino Will Start Game 2 of the ALDS

The Yankees reinforced their pitching depth this offseason by importing a trio of what-ifs: Jameson Taillon from Pittsburgh, Corey Kluber from Eric Cressey’s lab, and Domingo German, who shook off his rust immediately this spring.

On the surface, it feels like the Yanks brought in three different possible No. 3 starters, and if that’s where things settle, you know what? That’s completely fine. That’ll work.

But we’ll still place our bets on the midseason addition of Luis Severino as the final shot in the arm that officially revitalizes this rotation. In fact, we’re willing to still claim he has the second-highest upside of any pitcher in this mix, and will be starting the team’s second playoff game when all is said and done.

Midway through completing a rehab that manager Aaron Boone tentatively called too strong after his first trip to the mound in March, Severino is far ahead of schedule, and will only be held back for his own sake. In many ways, this too gives him an advantage over the Yankees “incumbents” who’ll be starting their seasons this week.

Every pitcher the Yankees currently employ, from Taillon to Deivi Garcia, will be on some form of innings restriction after a shortened 2020 season messed with the entire league’s preparation period. Severino’s clock will be starting far later, and it will be much less complex to limit his innings cap this season; even if the team wants to stop him at 100 or so, he should be able to go full bore into October without taking any time in the bullpen.

If his rehab’s been as successful as we’ve been told it has, the Yanks will be getting their second-highest-ceiling starter back midseason. Sevy’s been dealing with something or another since midway through 2018, but that year began with a series of untouchable outings. In the first half? 10-2, 2.74, 110 whiffs in 92 innings. If we even see 2/3 of that dominance in his first summer back, he’ll likely have earned the second spot in the postseason pecking order.