The New York Yankees are in first place, but the Toronto Blue Jays are nipping at their heels. The pitching staff is in need for a shot in the arm that they did not get at the trading deadline. This need caused the Yankees call up of Luis Severino. Pete Hodges tells us why Severino is here so early and what should give Yankees fans hope.
Over the last decade, the New York Yankees have had issues developing starting pitchers. This has led to the Yankees repeatedly delving into the free-agent pool to fill out their rotation. Joba Chamberlain was yo-yoed between the rotation and bullpen before becoming a reliable reliever. Phil Hughes was a solid contributor to the Yankees rotation, but has since moved on to the Minnesota Twins. Ian Kennedy did not flourish as a capable major league pitcher until he was included in a three way trade to the Arizona Diamondbacks that netted Curtis Granderson for the Yankees. Ivan Nova has proven to be a useful back of the rotation starter.
Enter Luis Severino. The 21-year-old pitching prospect was signed in December 2011 out of the Dominican Republic for $225,000 at the age of 17. In his first year as a professional, Severino pitched 64 ⅓ innings in the Dominican Summer League to the tune of a 1.68 ERA. This success led to him being promoted to the Gulf Coast League in 2013 where he continued to impress, finishing the year in class-A Charleston. He pitched a total of 44 innings in his first taste of U.S. baseball, with a combined ERA of 2.45. Severino started 2014 back in Charleston where he spent the majority of the season before being promoted to high-A Tampa. In Tampa, he made four starts with a 1.93 ERA, which prompted the Yankees to have Severino finish the year in double-A Trenton. Across the three levels, Severino pitched 113 innings with an ERA of 2.47. This performance is especially impressive as he had been young for every league. Starting 2015 in double-A Trenton, Severino quickly proved to the Yankees that he would need to be promoted again. After eight starts in Trenton, New York sent him to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to compete with hitters that on average were six years his senior. The youngster proved he belonged by posting a 1.19 ERA through 61 ⅓ innings, striking out 7.3 batters per nine innings.
With Severino knocking on the door to the big leagues, the Yankees didn’t have to panic at the trade deadline when Michael Pineda needed a DL-stint because of his strained forearm. General Manager Brian Cashman’s ace in the hole was his 21-year-old stud. Even though Severino has already thrown 99 ⅓ innings and only 113 last year, he will not be on an innings limit.
Looking at his delivery, Severino quickly loads his arm before his plant leg lands, which puts little stress on his arm. His delivery is also very simple. This allows him to get the ball to the plate in 1.1-1.2 seconds, which will help cut down on runners stealing. Severino’s fastball sits at 94-97-mph and is his best pitch. His changeup features good deception coming in at 83-85-mph which leads to swings and misses along with weak contact. The third offering in his repertoire is his slider that is routinely clocked at the same speed as the changeup. The slider has come along recently and some classify it as an above average, albeit inconsistent, offering.
The Yankees are hoping that Severino will realize the potential that Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy could not. With his easy delivery, great stuff and impressive track record, it looks like they finally have developed the young cost-controlled pitcher that can help them get back to being the dominant organization they recently were.