At the start, the 2019 Yankees looked to Luis Severino to anchor their rotation and guide them to a division title. They would win that division title, and Severino started for them in the postseason, but a shoulder injury and setback made it a nearly-lost season for the young flamethrower.
The Yankees and Severino avoided arbitration this year by agreeing to a four-year, $40 million extension with a fifth-year option. Considering Severino was coming off two All-Star seasons, this was a bargain for the Bombers, as well as some life-changing money for Severino.
Year 1 of the new deal didn’t go according to plan almost immediately. Scheduled to make his Spring Training debut on March 5, Sevy was scratched at the last minute. He was diagnosed with rotator cuff inflammation and was expected to return around the beginning of May.
A month later, that was pushed back as Severino suffered a separate Grade 2 lat strain throwing from flat ground. The setback mirrored the issues Dellin Betances had on the comeback trail.
The soreness in his late and shoulder lasted for months and he wasn’t able to resume throwing until the middle of the summer. By the time he was ready for rehab games, it was September. He’d make three rehab starts total for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Double-A Trenton before finally coming back on Sept. 17.
Returning Just in Time
When Sevy returned in mid-September, Yankees fans both rejoiced and held their breath. I wrote at the time about how there was no “Next Man Up” for Severino, both because the Yankees hadn’t been active at the trade deadline and due to the tremendous impact he can make.
In his first two starts, he settled in well. His fastball and slider weren’t quite as fast as they were for most of 2018, but he adapted well and tossed nine scoreless innings over two starts. In that time, he gave up five hits, walked two and struck out 13, albeit against lackluster Angels and Blue Jays lineups.
Severino worked himself up to 80 pitches in his penultimate outing, but that’s are far as he got. In Game 161, Severino had little control against the Rangers and lasted just three innings and 72 pitches. It was an unfortunately timed step back, though he remained healthy.
With only three rehab starts under his belt, Severino was still limited going into October. However, with the Yankees’ bullpen, the team could make up for that in his first outing.
Starting ALDS Game 3, Sevy put himself in and out of trouble, including a bases-loaded, none-out situation, yet the right-hander bore down and held the Twins scoreless for four innings. The bullpen took the game the rest of the way to clinch the series.
Back home, Severino started the crucial Game 3 of the ALCS, opposing potential future teammate Gerrit Cole. He again worked himself in and out of trouble but didn’t emerge unscathed this time, allowing two solo homers on a day the Yankees scored just once.
The 26-year-old righty was one win away from starting against Cole in a winner-take-all Game 7, but that was put on ice with a walk-off homer.
Severino will make $10 million in the second year of his extension and is under contract in the Bronx for at least the next three seasons. He again will be expected to anchor the rotation barring the acquisition of a Cole, Stephen Strasburg or someone of that ilk.
What can we expect from Severino? Likely something resembling his 2017 and ’18 campaigns. Shoulder injuries are scary and can linger, but Sevy got through to the other side and appeared just about himself, minus some stamina, once he got going in September and October.