Luis Severino did not have an exciting 26th birthday to say the least, and it seems that the injury bug has followed the Yankees into 2020. The Yankees starter was scheduled to throw a bullpen session at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Thursday, but he was instead shut down from throwing after his forearm tightened up.
“There’s an unknown right now,” Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said. “It could be small and a timing issue or it could be more significant than that, because we haven’t determined what we’re dealing with yet.”
This isn’t the first time Severino has felt pain in his forearm. Cashman said that the right-hander mentioned soreness in that area after pitching Game Three against the Houston Astros in last year’s ALCS, but the pain went away, so the Yankees thought nothing of it. The soreness has now returned and has been a problem all offseason. He will visit the team physician for further evaluation.
The Yankees and Severino agreed on a four-year, $40 million extension prior to the 2019 season. It has not gone the way either side would have thought. If this suspected injury forces him to miss some time, Sevy would be on his way to starting his second consecutive season on the IL.
We know that James Paxton will be out at least couple months after having undergone surgery on his back. If both Paxton and Severino start the year on the sideline, the Yankees will be out of their second and third-best starters in the rotation, thus forcing them to look to their depth for reinforcement.
The Yankees were equipped to handle the injury of Paxton. J.A. Happ would slide up to the fourth spot and there would be an open battle for the fifth spot. However, it looks like there may be a fight for the fourth and fifth slot. Figure Jordan Montgomery is a lock to make the rotation, leaving the final spot to a young arm or the “opener” strategy. When all said and done, the back end of the Yankees’ starting five by opening day could be Happ, Monty, and a wild card.
The health of Severino is so important for many obvious reasons. If he does indeed miss a chunk of time, Gerrit Cole will not have a blanket behind him to start the year. That is something that may be important for someone playing in pinstripes under the bright lights of New York for the first time. Although, Cole should be able to hold his own as he doesn’t seem like a guy fazed by pressure all that much. After Cole though, Tanaka is compelled to step up. The same goes for the rest of the starters. If Monty and whoever the fifth starter turns out to be doesn’t pitch deep into games, it could tax the bullpen arms early in the season. Sevy’s potential injury could affect the Yankees greatly.
The Bombers were able to counter almost every injury they faced last year with a depth piece. The “Next Man Up” mentality ran throughout most of the season and without the replacement players, who knows where the Yanks would’ve finished at the end of the regular season. A potential serious injury will have many ripple effects to the team. The Yankees will hope to avoid the entire situation after Severino’s visit with team team physician.