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The return of Luis Severino is great news for the Yankees bullpen

Having another starter capable of providing length will be beneficial for a taxed bullpen.

MLB: Spring Training-Philadelphia Phillies at New York Yankees Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees’ bullpen has the ninth-best fWAR in baseball (before Tuesday’s games) at 1.6, and the third-best ERA at 3.12. There is no question about it – the unit has been excellent so far despite some costly injuries.

However, it’s also no secret that manager Aaron Boone has had to go to the bullpen more than he probably would like. The Yanks entered play on Tuesday ranked fifth in innings pitched by the bullpen, with 164.1. That’s quite a lot, and it has been that way mainly because they haven’t been able to get much length from the rotation outside of Gerrit Cole.

Not even Nestor Cortes has been able to replicate his 2021 and 2022 success so far this year. The rest of the starters outside of Cole have pitched five or six innings on occasion, but it hasn’t been a common occurrence.

Enter Luis Severino. After completing another rehab start with the Somerset Patriots on Tuesday, everything appears set for him to make his long-awaited season debut on Sunday.

It’s obvious that the Yankees have missed Severino in the rotation. Cole has a 2.22 ERA, but the rest of the staff has been wildly inconsistent: Cortes’ ERA is at 5.53, Domingo Germán’s was at 4.00 before taking the hill on Tuesday, Clarke Schmidt is at 6.30, and Jhony Brito checks in at 5.20 even after Monday’s strong outing as a ‘bulk’ reliever.

However, the unit that will welcome Sevy back with the most happiness is the bullpen. The right-hander, when fully healthy, has the ability, willingness, and stamina to cover six and sometimes seven innings when he takes the ball. He would give the staff a much-needed breather more often than not when it’s his turn to pitch.

Severino, who finished the 2022 campaign with a 3.18 ERA in 102 frames, only failed to make it through five innings four times in 21 starts last year (including playoffs). In the regular season, he averaged 5.36 innings per start (a little over 5 1/3 per outing), which clears both Schmidt and Brito’s output in 2023.

If reports end up being accurate and he returns on Sunday, arms like Michael King, Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, Ron Marinaccio, Albert Abreu, and the now-injured Ian Hamilton will be thankful. Three of them have already surpassed 20 frames, and the Yankees ‘pen as a staff ranks uncomfortably high on the league inning leaderboards.

It’s doubtful that Severino will be allowed to complete seven innings in his first few starts back from the lat issue, but even him completing five or six on a regular basis will be great news for a bullpen that has been taxed a lot early on in 2023.

The Yankees’ relief corps are very good, but they need sufficient rest to remain reliable over the long haul. Cole usually grants them some free time, and now Severino can help them keep their arms fresh, too. If the Yankees can fix Cortes’ recent issues while facing lineups for a third time and if they ever get Carlos Rodón back, the bullpen will get an even larger boost.

For now, they will gladly take Severino, who will be trusted into a prominent role right from the go especially now that Germán is expected to be slapped with a 10-game suspension. He was tossed from Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jays after a substance check.

Getting Severino back is ideal for the pitching staff from a skills perspective, but the guys in the bullpen will sure be glad to see him back in the Bronx.