Luis Severino made his season debut on Tuesday night, returning from right shoulder inflammation and a Grade 2 Lat strain. Severino landed on the injured list on March 28 and had a lengthy recovery period. While the team has thrived in his absence, adding Severino to a pitching staff that has struggled this season will only give them confidence heading into the playoffs.
Simply put, Severino could not have looked better last night. He came out of the gate hitting 97 mph on his fastball and was pounding the strike zone. It didn’t go perfectly, as he walked the first batter then gave up a bloop hit to the next. However, he got a force out from a ground ball off Kole Calhoun, then got Albert Pujols to ground into a double play to escape the first inning unscathed.
After that, it was smooth sailing for the flame-thrower. He threw three more innings of two-hit ball and struck out four batters. He mixed in all three of his pitches tonight for 47 strikes out of 67 total pitches. Severino mentioned the other day in Toronto with Meredith Marakovits that his main concern was gaining control over his fastball; it certainly seemed like he had that down as he painted the right side of the plate all night.
On top of the accuracy, Severino’s fastball topped out at 98.8 mph and only got faster as the game went on.
Besides the fastball, Severino’s slider, which is normally used as his put-away pitch, looked great tonight as well. It was mostly located down and away where it is most effective in burying batters.
Severino was fastball heavy last night and only threw his changeup eleven times out of the 67 pitches. The changeup, however, was effective as he only threw it once for a ball and got two batters out with it, the rest were all strikes.
In short, the right-hander was close to perfect in his debut. After a 12-pitch walk to start the game, Severino regrouped and settled down for the rest of his outing. This was a big step for Severino and for the Yankees who will desperately need the best version of him if they plan on winning a World Series. There were no hiccups, set-backs or disruptions in his shoulder, which is a great sign.
Severino may make two more starts before the postseason begins. He is scheduled to pitch against Toronto on Sunday, and his next start after that would have to come in the last game of the regular season in Texas against the Rangers. The Yankees will have to decide if they want to try and stretch Severino out for a third time before the playoffs begin. In all likelihood, Severino will make that third start given that there is a five-day break between the last game of the season and Game One of the ALDS.
These are essentially spring training games for Severino, who has to revamp his arm again. Depending on the progress he makes, he could potentially make a start in the postseason,. Or maybe he will play a relief role. Either way, his 2019 debut has to make one feel encouraged about Severino pitching in the postseason.