In a season full of ups and downs, the New York Yankees finally have great news: ace right-hander Luis Severino is scheduled to make his first start of the year at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. The 25-year-old is coming back from a lat strain and inflammation in his rotator cuff, just as the team makes a push for home-field advantage in the postseason.
With high hopes to claim their franchise 28th World Series title, there’s probably no one the Yankees would love to have more than Severino. Pitching comes at a premium in October, so inserting an ace-caliber pitcher into a shaky rotation gives the Bombers a much needed shot in the arm.
The two-time All-Star has high expectations for himself. “It’s been a long wait, but it happened. I’m happy that I’m healthy and I’m going to be able to help my team,” Severino explained to Kristie Ackert on Friday.
The Yankees will showcase Severino to Yankees fans and the rest of the baseball world on their final regular-season homestand. After making his third and final rehab start, it’s time to see if “Sevy” can return to form in the big leagues. The right-hander was a Cy Young Award finalist in 2017 and was among the best pitchers in baseball in the first half of 2018.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone expressed such confidence:
This is a guy who is a potential ace, a guy that’s not only important obviously in the short term to us, but on the long term. A pitcher with his ability and his track record already, a guy that we feel like is going to anchor the rotation for a long time. You miss those big innings, those big outings a guy like that can give you and how he affects the rest of the staff as well. We’ve missed another great pitcher capable of matching up with other great pitchers around the league.
Severino certainly has ace potential; when healthy he’s the staff ace. The postseason experience he has under his belt should also help as he has familiarity with pitching in this time of year.
The Yankees will most likely work his pitch count up leading to the playoffs, but you can expect to see him reach a pitch count at about 75. The rehab and much needed rest should pay major dividends for his velocity, as we’re used to seeing him clock out with his fastball at anywhere from 97-100 mph. He reportedly hit 97 mph in his rehab, which is encouraging.
The rehab stints hopefully brought his command up to par after such a long layoff, but that will be an area to monitor. He still needs to build up in terms of endurance, so one can reasonably expect anywhere from four to six innings depending on efficiency. The length he provides shouldn’t be much of a worry, as the Yankees have a top-five bullpen to follow suit.
The excitement and anticipation for Severino is second to none. There aren’t many teams in the league that could confidently say that they'd be in position to win their division, let alone make the postseason, without their ace. Yet somehow, someway, the Yankees find themselves days away from clinching.
When he’s on, there aren't too many pitchers in baseball who can keep up with Severino. In his first 18 starts last season, he pitched 118.1 innings with a 1.98 ERA while allowing only six home runs and averaging 10 strikeouts a game. Inserting an arm with that resume onto a team on a brink of winning 100 games is scary. The best part is that the Yankees are the ones who will be enjoying the show.