Overall, the Yankees’ rotation has been a mixed bag this season. There’s been a range of serviceable to “oh no, not this again.” The one question mark going into the season has shockingly proven to be the main weak spot of the team. Sure there have been other frustrations, but the rotation has been the biggest issue. It’s the reason that Brian Cashman’s top priority for the trade deadline is a starting pitcher. The staff needs to improve, save for Luis Severino.
Severino really cemented himself as one of the game’s best pitchers, and as the Yankees’ true ace, last year. He finished third in Cy Young voting and bounced back with a vengeance from his awful sophomore slump in 2016. So far this year, Severino’s proven that 2017 was no fluke. He’s the real deal. He’s not only the Yankees’ ace, but he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball.
In 19 starts this year, Severino owns a 2.12 ERA, a 2.48 FIP, an ERA+ of 201 and his 143 strikeouts on the year amount to a 10.4 K/9 ratio. He’s among the leaders in almost every statistical category, not just for the American League, but for all of Major League Baseball. His ERA+ trails only Jacob deGrom’s 213 in all of baseball.
Per Baseball Reference, Severino has been worth 5.0 Wins Above Replacement, which ties him with Chris Sale for the AL lead, tied for third overall. Meanwhile, FanGraphs has Severino worth 4.2 Wins Above Replacement, which is good for fifth overall. And even though wiins aren’t a great measure of a pitcher’s ability, Severino still leads baseball in wins.
The biggest challenge for Severino will be his competition. The AL All-Star starters list is stacked. Severino will be joined in D.C. by Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, and Corey Kluber. Trevor Bauer, Jose Berrios, and J.A. Happ will also be there, but they’re less threats to start. Verlander’s scheduled to start this upcoming Sunday, so that will take him out of the running.
Sale’s strikeout numbers are superior to Severino’s, but that’s really the only place he has Severino beat. His ERA, FIP, and ERA+ are all superior to Sale, Kluber, and Cole. It won’t be an easy decision to name a starter for the American League All-Stars, but Severino’s case is as strong as anybody’s.
Outside of the numbers, there’s the star power factor. While Kluber and Sale are definitely more established names, Severino is the ace of the New York Yankees. The most successful, recognizable, and well known baseball team in the world. Putting him on the national stage is something MLB can surely market. The ace of the Yankees starting the All-Star Game in the nation’s capital — the narrative writes itself!
The Yankees are set to start a series against the Cleveland today and Severino will face off against Kluber. A strong showing tonight, and possibly out-dueling Kluber, could just help his case.
The decision is ultimately going to come down to A.J. Hinch of the Astros. Hinch is bringing along his whole coaching staff, along with the Rays’ Kevin Cash, so there’s a chance some bias comes into play and they choose Cole. Most likely, they’ll go with one of the “established” guys like Kluber or Sale to get the starting honor.
Severino has earned the honor to start just as much as those other arms, and should be given strong consideration. Luis Severino deserves to start the All-Star Game. Plus, who doesn’t want to see a Super Saiyan start the All-Star Game?
*Season statistics provided courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.