Connect with us


Yankees need to continue development of Luis Severino as a starting pitcher

Luis Severino (

Luis Severino (

There is a plethora of talented young arms across town in Queens that the Yankees have not been able to keep up with. Pitchers like Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard have helped lead the New York Mets to a franchise renaissance. The Yankees finally had their own young flame-thrower come up through the ranks in 2015.

Luis Severino was an international signing from the Dominican Republic in 2012. In no time, he became the Yankees top prospect as he made quick work of his minor league contemporaries. He was somewhat of an unexpected surprise for the Yanks. He was not highly touted on the international market, but turned out to be a blue chip prospect.

Instead of acquiring a starting pitcher to make an impact at the trade deadline in 2015, the Yankees called up Severino. This was ideally supposed to serve as their big acquisition, as they felt he would make an immediate impact. He made his debut on August 5, against the arch rival Boston Red Sox. He went five innings allowing just two hits and one earned run while recording seven strikeouts. He displayed electric stuff and became the first American League pitcher in baseball history to strike out seven batters, while walking none and allowing no more than two hits in his Major League debut.

Severino’s fastball tops out at 99 mph and his arsenal also includes a devastating slider and a changeup that needs some work.

Yankee Stadium was buzzing with excitement as, at long last, there was finally a homegrown starting pitching phenom of their own. Severino had a great run in the rotation in 2015. It wasn’t always smooth sailing, as he would sometimes fall behind hitters early, but still have enough high quality stuff to get out of jams. The most impressive part of his struggles was his poise and ability to rebound quickly on the mound. Even without his best stuff, Severino would always give the team a chance to win. He undoubtedly displayed brilliance at some points, especially during his last three starts. In one of his final start’s he shut down the blue jays for six innings leading to a big win with playoff implications.

He finished the season with a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts and 56 strikeouts in 62.1 innings. The Bombers even considered starting him in the American League Wild Card game, due to the recent inconsistency and uncertainty about Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow at the time. In a one game playoff with the season on the line, you must go with the hot hand. Instead, the Yanks gave the ball to their veteran ace, who pitched pretty well, but not good enough to win the game. Severino was active for the game in the bullpen, but was not needed as the Yankees never held a lead in the game.

Severino began the 2016 campaign with a spot in the rotation and all of the hype in the world to live up to. He held the torch for the youth movement in the Bronx. He continued his struggles early in games, falling behind in counts and walking too many batters. His season got off to a rough start against Detroit. He was all over the place and finished with three earned runs in five innings and 10 hits allowed. It was all down hill from there.

He finished April with a record of 0-3 while sporting a 6.86 ERA. Not living up to expectations would have been an understatement. He lacked an effective third pitch in his repertoire. This problem landed Severino back in Scranton (Triple-A) by May.

After 11 starts in 2015, teams had video and made adjustments to the young hurler’s approach. Hitters would let him get behind early in counts and proceed to jump on fastballs in the zone, while laying off the slider that dives away from a righty. The changeup was simply not effective, or thrown nearly enough for Severino to keep hitters off-balance. He needs that pitch to give hitters a different look. His changeup comes from the same arm slot as his fastball, which can make the changeup a deceptive pitch that Luis can get a lot of swing-and-misses on. That would get hitters to think about another pitch and stop sitting on the fastball, making all of his pitches more effective. Starters need more than two pitches to get through a Major League lineup twice or maybe even three times.

The Yankees tried Severino in the bullpen later in the season, where, with his explosive fastball and wipeout slider he made a powerful resurgence. He benefited from only having to face the lineup once at most. This gave Yankee fans and the coaching staff the impression that he can potentially be more effective out of the bullpen.

That would be a terrible mistake for the Yankees. They have invested so much time and effort in Severino’s development the past few years not to give him another extended look as a starter. He is assuredly going to receive another chance to crack to Major League rotation this season, but he needs to have a long leash to work with.

The key to Severino’s success is reliant on the development of his changeup and reclaiming his confidence and poise on the mound that he showcased in 2015. If he makes the right adjustments in Spring Training, he could definitely start the season in the rotation. If not, the Yankees need to keep him in Triple-A to groom him into the dynamic pitcher he is capable of being. There is also no room for him to get innings in a crowded bullpen after trading for Adam Warren and Tyler Clippard last year, while also having Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman shutting things down in the 8th and 9th innings. It is also much harder to find young and controllable starting pitchers with the talent that Severino possesses.

He should be given every opportunity to continue his career as a starter. His meteoric rise should not be thrown away due to a disappointing second season. Severino is still just 22 and has loads of talent.

When playing in New York, fans expect immediate results. We dismiss the notion of a “Sophomore Slump”, which is essentially unacceptable based on our standards. It is the biggest adjustment he has ever made. He is a young starter changing his approach after the best hitters in the world have seen him and made adjustments to his initial approach.

This will be Severino’s biggest test yet and the 2017 season is critical to the development of the young flamethrower, and the future of the Yankees as a whole.

The following two tabs change content below.
Spencer is the New York Yankees Lead Writer for
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Baseball