Remember those salad days of early spring when it seemed like the Yankees might actually start Clarke Schmidt in the minors because their rotation was so full that they didn’t have room for Domingo Germán, either? The pitching plans seemed so ordinary at the time, even with Nestor Cortes battling some brief hamstring tightness.
Then Frankie Montas learned that he would have shoulder surgery, which would keep him out for the vast majority of the season. “Okay, fine,” we thought. “He was pretty bad last year for us anyway. Just pick between Germán and Schmidt, and roll from there.”
Then prized new starter Carlos Rodón went down with a forearm strain (announced at the same time as injuries to relievers Lou Trivino and Tommy Kahnle). He’s not going to be out for nearly as long, but the Yankees knew that he would miss April. “Okay, fine,” we thought. “At least he’ll ideally heal up soon, and it’s fine to simply have both Germán and Schmidt in the early rotation anyway.”
Then this tweet popped up on my Twitter timeline this morning:
Aaron Boone said Severino felt tightness after his last start while he was performing his arm care routine. That tightness has remained in the days since. #Yankees— Gary Phillips (@GaryHPhillips) March 25, 2023
Boone said this AM that Severino will go on IL with what was described as a low-grade lat strain.— David Lennon (@DPLennon) March 25, 2023
Severino went on the IL last season with what was described as a low-grade lat strain on July 14.
He didn't make another start until Sept. 21. #Yankees
Crap crap crap crap crap.
Now Schmidt is starting the second game of the season, Severino is almost certainly heading for the IL, and suddenly rookie Jhony Brito (or an opener) could end up in the starting rotation at the outset of the 2023 season. A late trade for a fill-in can’t be ruled out, either.
Spring training, folks: I hate it here!
Marcus called Brito the 10th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system back in December, and I will say that he’s done a good job of making a case for himself in camp, too. The recent 25-year-old has a 3.52 ERA and 0.0 BB/9 in 7.2 innings of work, and while other stats are less rosy, spring training is more about how you look in accomplishing your developmental objectives than your personal stats. Brito was also strong in 18 starts for Triple-A Scranton in 2022, notching a 3.31 ERA, 1.175 WHIP, and giving up just 5 homers in 70.2 innings (0.6 HR/9). The Yankees are probably missing the since-traded Ken Waldichuk, Hayden Wesneski, and JP Sears right now, but if they have to use Brito, it’s not the end of the world.
To add the oh-so-tiniest shade of optimism to this situation, it doesn’t seem like the Yankees are as concerned with this lat strain compared to the one that knocked him out for two months in 2022. Manager Aaron Boone leaned more toward calling it “subtle” and probably not long-term. Later, pitching coach Matt Blake echoed these thoughts with a little more detail.
Matt Blake said Severino’s strain is in a different spot than the one that cost him 2 months last year. Said the shutdown is “5 to 10 days ish.” Sound like Brito is first man up. Will start tomorrow.— Anthony Rieber (@AnthonyRieber) March 25, 2023
Do I take everything that Boone says with a grain of salt? Absolutely. Am I going to cling to this in desperation that Severino will only be out for a little while? You got it. Severino didn’t think he needed to be out for the full two months last year anyway, so there is that. But it’s hard to have a lot of confidence in his body at this point with all the wear and tear of Tommy John surgery and other injuries over the years.
So, here we are. I still have a lot of confidence in the Yankees’ pitching program to keep everything afloat in the meantime — much more so now than, say, in the disastrous spring 2007 when so many people got hurt that literally Carl Pavano started Opening Day. Still, there’s no getting around the fact that Severino is hurt again and that it totally sucks to see.