Our simulation of the 2020 Yankee season has, for the most part, been an injury-free one. All the starting pitchers have been able to stay on the field and the team has three pitchers with a real shot at 200 innings — one of them is James Paxton, which is how you know this is just a simulation.
That changed this week as righthander Luis Severino was classified as day-to-day with a lat strain, missing most of the week and likely requiring an IL stint. Sevy had been making his starts, but struggling all year, with a 4.59 ERA and elevated home run totals. The long ball has really been the bane of Yankee existence in our sim, hurting Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery, and costing Severino quite a bit as well.
Sevy and Cole’s seasons have actually been relatively similar — both are allowing more contact and giving up home runs. Severino’s 1.00 HR/9 is his highest since 2016, and he has the highest WHIP in his professional career at 1.59. FIP actually forgives him quite a bit — his 2.90 is a great mark — largely due to still-impressive strikeout totals, but like Cole, there is just too much traffic on the bases.
In the real world, small injuries like this can sometimes have a silver lining, in that they allow players to decompress and evaluate their performance as part of their rehab. Maybe Severino’s mechanics would be off, and a week on the bench recovering would give him the time he needs to make adjustments. Sometimes those adjustments can even help a player stay healthy upon returning.
This is especially true, or should have been true, when the Yankees hired Matt Blake over the winter. Blake is near-universally recognized as an analytics guru, whose understanding of biomechanics and pitching efficiency helped churn out stars like Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber in Cleveland. The Yankees were hoping Blake could work his “magic” on their staff too.
Of course this isn’t real life that we’re talking about. The injured Severino isn’t a real person, he’s a collection of computer code that’s completely controlled by Ryan Chichester. The game includes a digital pitching coach in the dugout but they don’t actually make adjustments or do anything to improve their lines of code.
Luis Severino’s injury in The Show is the first one we’ve had that actually mirrors what’s happened in real life — his rotator cuff kept him out of most of 2019, and of course he underwent Tommy John surgery at the beginning of spring training this year. The digital injury isn’t nearly as serious, but hopefully the staff’s number two arm can rebound, and whatever code makes up e-Severino is able to adjust and improve his performance for the rest of our sim.