The rest of us, from diehard fans to objective projection-setters? We understand that caution must be exercised when projecting Severino’s next steps.
Due to a shoulder issue, a global pandemic, Tommy John surgery, and two confusing setbacks during his three 2021 rehab assignments — an awful-looking groin pull and a shoulder that just “didn’t feel quite right” — Sevy has logged just 27.2 innings since the 2018 season ended, including postseason play.
While he looked electric in his late-season bullpen stint at the tail end of 2021, a comeback that felt like decades in the making, Severino is planning to be deployed as a starting pitcher next season. It’s best for the Yankees if he can handle the workload, but a team that leans on him rather than gets excited by what he ends up providing has a rotation built on folly.
Yankee fans are pessimistic. Outsiders? Even moreso.
According to FanGraphs’ STEAMER projections, Severino is targeted for 42 games — but just 24 starts — totaling 156 innings, a 4.08 ERA and 4.13 FIP.
Acceptable numbers for someone who’s spent so much time on the shelf? Absolutely, especially the innings total. But that’s not a No. 2, and it would be unreasonable to expect him to embody the role, unless the stuff ticks up during the winter unexpectedly.
Yankees starter Luis Severino’s projections aren’t encouraging.
In an effort to further clarify these projections, FanGraphs’ Jeff Zimmerman spoke with Yanks Go Yard, emphasizing both the good and the bad.
He was more bullish on Severino’s innings estimate than we were, noting that, coming off Tommy John surgery, the Yankees might be even more willing to push Sevy, relatively unafraid of a second, immediate procedure. Of course, Severino’s body has betrayed him in other ways recently, and avoiding an elbow injury doesn’t mean he’s without significant risk.
Zimmerman did note, though, that in Severino’s late-season 2021 cameo, he had lost a bit of zip on his fastball (~2 MPH), leaving him below the “stuff” threshold he needs to hit to beat the above numbers. Unless he finds that velocity, he’ll be more like the eight K/9 version of himself from 2015, when his low ERA was somewhat hollow, rather than the 10 K/9 version he has to be to reach his potential again.
Severino’s offseason, thus far, appears to be going according to plan, and he’s entering his solo throwing program (away from the team) with the utmost confidence.
The Yankees will be better served if they insure him, however. Otherwise, Severino’s ceiling will be 2021 Jameson Taillon, which isn’t enough for the team to contend.