The last few New York Yankees seasons/playoff runs have been derailed because of Luis Severino’s health.
What felt like moments after he signed his contract extension prior to the 2019 season, the right-hander went down with a shoulder injury. His return was delayed due to a lat injury later in the year as well.
Then came FEBRUARY of 2020 when it was determined he would require Tommy John surgery (after we were tricked that a one-day absence from spring training was because he was hungover after celebrating his birthday). That knocked him out for the entire shortened COVID-19 season.
But he’d be back and ready to roll in 2021, right? Nope. Toss in a few more setbacks and a puzzling groin injury that set him off course for another month, and Sevy didn’t appear in an MLB game until Sept. 1.
So, in summation, the once-believed Yankees ace has appeared in seven total regular season games since the start of the 2019 season and three playoff games. Five of those were relief outings. That’s 27.2 innings in three full seasons.
But hey! We’ve got good news. Severino told the media he’s throwing bullpens this offseason and is “expecting to be ready to be a starting pitcher whenever spring training starts.”
Can the Yankees trust Luis Severino as a starting pitcher?
Any positive development concerning Severino is a breath of fresh air … but now we need to shift gears a bit and discuss how realistic it is for him to be a starting pitcher in 2022.
We just enumerated what’s occurred over the last three years. On what planet is Severino going to be able to go 150+ innings after throwing a total of 27.2 since the start of 2019? Will the Yankees simply try their luck and see what happens? Or will they have a sort of hybrid plan for the 27-year-old, where he’s stretched out in the bullpen for the first half of the season before being unleashed after the All-Star break?
Does it sounds farfetched if they keep him in the bullpen for the whole year, acquire another starter, and then see what happens in order to make an informed decision on his $15 million team option for the 2023 season?
The manner in which he was handled down the stretch last season was quite bizarre. It was like he was being saved for an imaginary deep playoff run that only the Yankees’ higher ups believed was going to happen. Mind you, Sevy threw just 10.2 innings of work across multiple rehab assignments before his September debut, meaning he was used for a total of 18 innings since getting back on the mound in June.
The Yankees have had enough problems with their starters either lacking longevity or running out of gas at the end of the season. Severino, in theory, as the team’s No. 2 behind Gerrit Cole was always the dream plan, but it’s hard to see that happening for long stretches or at least without a plan to assist Severino’s endurance due to his lack of work since the end of the 2018 campaign.