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How should the Yankees use Luis Severino once he returns?

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The Yankees will need to figure out how to maximize Luis Severino’s contributions to the rotation

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees-Game 1 Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no denying how valuable Luis Severino is to the New York Yankees. The 25-year-old ace has been out all season due to a right rotator cuff and a Grade 2 lat strain. After back to back All-Star seasons in 2017 and 2018, the Yankees rewarded Severino with a 4-year, 40 million dollar extension that could reach up to 52 million in total with a club option in the 5th season that would be worth $15MM and comes with a $2.75MM buyout.

Unfortunately, 2019 was derailed by injuries to many key Yankees, but none has been felt more than the loss of Severino. A tough second half in 2018 prevented him from meeting his full potential, but when he’s fully healthy it’s safe to put Severino’s name in the upper echelon of top starters in the game of baseball today. Surprisingly, the Bombers appear to be cruising to their first American League East title since 2012 without their big game pitcher. What can we expect when Sevy is back, though?

It’s possible that a pitching limit will be placed on him by the Yankees front office. Despite the team’s success this season, there’s no denying Severino can give the Yankees a better shot than what they’ve received from J.A Happ (5.58 ERA). Therefore, it might make the most sense to put Severino in the role of the opener and let him pitch 3-4 innings and let Happ come in for another inning or two while allowing the bullpen to complete the remaining portion of the games.

With this strategy, the Yankees would maximize Severino while keeping the opposing team’s offense at a halt. He wouldn’t have to go through the lineup three times, and it would allow manager Aaron Boone to keep Happ in as a long reliever if he’s dealing or keep him on a short leash while giving the bullpen enough work. The key is to not tax the bullpen when the postseason comes around.

If the Yankees decide that Severino is strong enough to withstand a normal pitch count limit around 100 then the sky’s the limit. Boone stated that he pitched very well in his two inning simulated game and is inching closer to a rehab start in the minors.

“Assuming everything goes well with him bouncing back [Friday], he will be on that five-day rotation. He will throw another side in between and have a more extensive sim game his next time out, in five days,’’ Boone said of Severino. “Hopefully if that goes well, probably the next time out would be maybe in some [minor league] game action.’’

At the end of the day, the addition of Severino to the rotation will bring a much needed shot in the arm to the Bombers. Allowing him to get a start or two in prior to the conclusion of the season would pay major dividends on allowing the team to see where he’s at physically and mentally, ultimately creating a more concrete analysis of where he can be used to maximize his potential. It doesn’t matter how he is used as long as he is effective and the Yankees keep winning.