2015 Statistics: AA/AAA: 2.45 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 99.1 innings
MLB: 2.89 ERA, 4.37 FIP, 8.09 K/9, 3.18 BB/9, 62.1 IP
2016 Contract Status: pre-arbitration
The Yankees' top prospect made his debut this year and he didn't disappoint. Having only been on the map for the last two years, it was hard to gauge just how real Luis Severino was and when we could expect to see him in the majors, but a big 2015 cleared everything up. Brian Cashman could have easily traded him over the last year or so, but sticking with his player panned out.
In 2015, Severino started out in Double-A, where he maintained a 3.32 ERA with an incredible 11.37 K/9 in 38.0 innings. He then moved up to Triple-A at the end of May and dominated the level with a 1.91 ERA and kept opponents to a .184/.252/.207 batting line in 61.1 innings. He remained in the minors right up until the trade deadline, and at 21, it seemed unlikely he would make much of an impact, unless it was through a trade. Rumors circled about who Cashman was willing to trade Severino for, and many recommended Johnny Cueto, David Price, and other players. As it turned out, the Yankees were determined to keep their asset in the organization and just days following the trade deadline, Luis Severino was called up to make his major league debut.
The right-hander proved to be more effective than most of the pitchers the fans wanted the Yankees to trade him for. After a 2.89 ERA with solid peripherals of 8.09 K/9 and 3.18 BB/9, keeping Severino seemed to be the right decision to make over trading him for Cueto's 4.76 ERA in the second half. Not only was he effective, but he also managed to give some distance–throwing mostly six innings–during his starts, thanks to some early-season innings management.
Severino wasn't perfect, but he was exactly what the Yankees rotation needed. By the end of the season, Nathan Eovaldi was hurt, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova were ineffective, and Adam Warren wasn't giving much depth. Severino even offered Yankees fans the type of excitement they hadn't seen in years when he averaged 95 mph with his fastball and topped out at 98, even throwing gas late into his starts.
People like Keith Law insist that his delivery will eventually push him to the bullpen, but as of right now, there is no indication he can't make it as a starter. Sure, it's a small sample size, but he maintained an excellent 50.9 GB%, which–paired with solid strikeout numbers–could make him something really special. Not everything was great, though, as he struggled to put hitters away at times and allowed a 1.30 HR/9 during his time in the big leagues. He'll need to reign in his fastball command and work to normalize his home run rate (especially in the Bronx) or he's going to struggle in the majors.
The Yankees will, in all likelihood, start the season with him in the rotation and hope that he can build on what he showed in September. If things go right, he could be a staple of the team for years to come. He just has to continue to improve. Right now, he's here to stay, and he'll do it in the rotation.