On Wednesday, Yankees No. 3 starter Luis Severino touched 98 to blow Philadelphia Phillies star Alec Bohm away with a fastball, peppering in sliders and changeups.
He also walked two Phillies starters, surrendered two hits, and didn't retire a batter besides Bohm. Using the spring training rules to their advantage, the Yankees removed Severino following 30 high-stress pitches in the frame, briefly inciting more injury panic before fans watched him return to the mound to begin the second inning.
Unfortunately, the reliever who followed him -- Carlos Gomez -- allowed all of Severino's inherited runners to score, maximizing the ugliness potential of his line.
For those biting their fingernails at home, that's four spring training starts and four clunkers for Severino this spring. The velocity's there. The slider, by and large, hasn't been located properly. His health is of paramount importance, so as long as that box is checked, technically all is well.
But ... it would be really nice to find that slider soon.
Yankees starter Luis Severino spring training struggles continue; Phillies blowout
Severino, to his credit, commented this week on his struggles and laid things plain. In typical Severino fashion, he didn't hold his emotions back.
"“That my slider sucks, that’s what they’re telling me right now,” Severino said with a chuckle after throwing four innings in a 4-3 win over the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. “I need to work more on my slider. It’s not the movement, it’s just location actually.” "- Luis Severino, on what NYY told him
Severino didn't allow a home run in Wednesday's first three innings (progress!), but the control and command problems that have plagued him during the preseason period still very much lingered, forcing his early departure (and eventual return with a clean slate).
And, to add insult to (hopefully not!) injury, he got a line drive doinked off his body that was quickly cleaned up by Anthony Volpe in the field.
Is this something to be concerned about? As long as he's genuinely healthy and not fudging anything, not really. 2022, Severino's most recent healthy spring, also wrapped with a garish 8.22 ERA in three starts. Somehow, he hadn't appeared in a spring game between 2018 and 2022, due to shoulder issues in '19 and Tommy John immediately prior to game action in '20. There's not a ton of spring data to go off of here, but the recent output has been similarly poor.
Severino has a few weeks left to find his slider and maximize his potential this season. He needs to keep his conditioning top-notch, though. If he misses time with any sort of ailment, the Yankees' "best rotation in franchise history" will be down to one fully-built-up starter, as Nestor Cortes readies for his spring debut.