Yankees fans saw flashes of the Luis Severino of old this spring, in particular against the Atlanta Braves in his final outing in Florida. Mostly, though, followers of the team were just awed that he was on the mound and functional, shaking off the rust rather than shaking his right arm in pain.
After all, Severino missed the majority of the 2019 season with a recurring shoulder issue, then was taken off the board in 2020 by the February reveal of a UCL tear. His recovery lasted deep into 2021, after two setbacks further muddied his timeline — both for an immediate return and a long-term prognosis.
When he finally did make it back to the mound, it was in a late-season bullpen role, though he still breathed fire. It was just a shorter buildup before the release.
Entering 2022, though, hopes were both high (after all, there was no publicly-known impediment to his success) and muted (quite simply because he hasn’t been available in years).
If Severino’s ’22 debut against the Red Sox was a glorious return to the mound, in which he dotted 99 and allowed two runs in three innings thanks to some less-than-spectacular defense, his second start against the Blue Jays was his return to form.
Not only was he electric — after long half-innings, short stints on the bench, and everything in between — but he dominated with attitude. This was the Severino who almost ran the world in 2017.
Yankees RHP Luis Severino became the first Yankee to “Have some f*** you” in 2022
Severino opened his second start of the season — and second against a fearsome AL East opponent, no less — on a pitch count. He wrapped with 83 in five innings, sticking around probably a few pitches longer than intended so he could rock Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to sleep one more time and wail/punch at the heavens on his way off the field.
For the purposes of the spectacle, it was better that way.
Severino’s five-inning stint against the gold standard for MLB offenses in 2022 featured just two hits, two walks, and six whiffs. Three of those were Guerrero Jr., who racked up a Golden Sombrero just one day after ESPN’s Jeff Passan declared him the king of the world.
And the sneer that went into writing that sentence was reflected on the mound in Severino’s outing, too. He’s beloved because he battled so hard to return to the majors, of course, but he also pitches like the desperate edge of Yankee fans is coursing through his veins as he rocks and fires.
Aaron Hicks told CC Sabathia prior to the season that the 2022 team’s motto was, “Have Some F*** You,” indicating they had no intention of taking it this year. Severino’s starts have embodied that more than anything else we’ve seen — arguably, Sevy seems to be the only Bomber taking up that specific cause.
After he lost control of a first-inning fastball up and in to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (scary, but it happens), Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah tried to jaw from the dugout at Severino in what must’ve been a half-baked attempt to fire up his team with a bit of false bravado. After all, Manoah’s a pitcher, too. Did he earnestly think Severino, in his second start since 2019 after three years of injury recovery, had any intention of risking someone else’s health?
Severino’s impassioned dismissiveness squashed Manoah’s petty peacocking quickly and plowed the Yankees onward.
If you ask Severino off the mound about his behavior on it, it’s all positivity. He’s a fountain of energy mid-game and a pensive appreciator of the world around him once he leaves the boundaries of the field.
As Severino himself said in his postgame Instagram, “Amazing night great team work #happy flight #Sevy.”
But as Severino snarled on the mound, “Game on.” Having that Severino back was the most encouraging two hours of the 2022 Yankees season thus far.