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What to expect from Luis Severino’s return

Luis Severino’s long-awaited return is imminent, and it could do wonders for this team.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at New York Yankees Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

After not appearing in the big leagues since mid-July, a surprising move to the 60-day injured list, and a handful of rehab starts, Luis Severino’s return finally seems to be right around the corner. Up until his lengthy stint on the IL, Severino pitched 86 innings with a 3.45 ERA, striking out 27.2 percent of hitters and walking 7.2 percent. Perhaps most importantly, he largely resembled the pitcher that was so effective for the Yankees during his breakout 2017-2018 campaigns.

The righty made three rehab appearances in the minors and has looked solid, and his return could be a huge addition for the Yankees as they head toward the end of the season. Severino’s last rehab appearance was Thursday with the RailRiders. In his first, on September 1 in Single-A, the right-hander pitched two innings, facing the minimum and striking out three. Six days later in Double-A, he pitched four innings, gave up two runs and struck out four more. And finally on Thursday, the 28-year-old pitched 4.1 innings, gave up two earned, walked one batter, and fanned six. All in all, Severino threw 10.1 innings, gave up four runs, striking out 13 batters and walking just one. It was a fairly encouraging sample, in part because he flashed quality velocity at times:

It seemed possible previously that Severino might find himself in a bullpen role upon his return, but it appears he will slot back into the Yankees’ rotation, as the team made a point to stretch him out more than some anticipated in his rehab process. How exactly Severino’s return plays out, both in regards to his performance and the exact expectations from the team, obviously can’t be fully known. But, there are plenty of implications that can be drawn from the right-hander’s return to the roster.

As far as the rotation is concerned, there is likely an odd man out, with five healthy starters already on top of the imminent return of Severino. He has gotten up to 56 pitches in his rehab appearances, and is projected to start on Wednesday against the Pirates, following Domingo Germán’s start Tuesday.

Longer-term, it remains to be seen whether Severino’s return will mean Germán moving to the bullpen, or having a fluid role. It’s possible even Severino could shift between roles. Either way, adding an arm like Severino’s can really only help this team. If nothing else, it certainly raises the floor of the Yankee rotation. With Severino looking mostly ready to go, and Germán making a serious case for himself recently, there are much worse problems to have than too many useful starters.

If this means that someone moves to the bullpen full-time or has a hybrid role, that would seemingly only add to the depth out there, which is never a bad thing to have. In essence, adding a good pitcher to a roster is a always a positive thing.

Luis Severino is a great pitcher at his best. Adding a potential impact arm like that, whether it’s to the rotation or elsewhere at some point, in the middle of September is a big deal. It would seem that Severino has a spot in the rotation, and if he does what he’s capable of doing, then that’s where he belongs on the Yankee roster. The right-hander has shown that he can still be an impact arm when he’s been on the mound this year, and certainly raises the potential of this pitching staff.