Luis Severino has struggled mightily early on in 2016, raising the question of whether the New York Yankees can afford to give him leeway.
The right-hander, who was 7-0 with a 1.91 ERA with Triple-A Scranton, was listed as the Yankees’ top pitching prospect and the organization preferred to go with an in-house option rather than seeking the market.
The move paid immediate dividends when he started out in the bigs. In 11 starts to finish out the 2015 campaign the then 21-year-old went 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA, dazzling scouts and fans alike. The Yankees looked like they had a future ace in the making.
However, Severino’s first four starts of what was hoped to be a promising 2016 season have not gone as planned. The young flamethrower has surrendered 32 hits in 19 2/3 innings thus far, getting hit hard and unraveling in particular starts.
A now 8-15 Yankee team that is already six games off the pace in the AL East simply cannot have the patience for a starting pitcher that possesses a 6.86 ERA. With that being said, Severino could very well be pitching for his job tonight in Baltimore.
According to Brooks Baseball, opponents are hitting an exceptional .385 off Severino’s bread and butter this season: his four-seam fastball.
“He is overthrowing,” Yankees’ pitching coach Larry Rothschild told NY Post’s George A. King III. “That’s what he is doing.”
Rothschild has witnessed first hand how when Severino gets into trouble on the mound, he tends to rear back and hope for the best. That type of strategy has had adverse effects on Severino.
He has also leaned away from his changeup through these first four starts, only using it 58 times or an average of 14 times per start. Without the changeup, Severino turns into a two pitch pitcher more suitable for the bullpen than a top spot in a starting rotation.
His slider starts to look like a slow fastball when he doesn’t mix his pitches, and the results have not been pretty with opponents batting .371 off that pitch.
It is a sad state of affairs for Yankee fans as everyone was hoping the 22-year-old could be a staple in what is a questionable rotation, to say the least. They can only hope that he does not get overwhelmed by the situation and can return to vintage form.
If that turnaround does not transpire, Severino could very well be getting used to long bus rides and minor league oppositions in the near future.
Pitchers such as Luis Cessa and Chad Green that the Yankees think very highly of having been slated to work out their issues down in the minors. In this case, Severino could be no different.
The Yankees may have to sacrifice one of the brightest spots on their roster if the right-hander falters again against a powerful Baltimore Orioles lineup. So much potential persists with Luis Severino as is the case with the majority of the 25-man roster. However, in this early season the potential has not transformed into results.
It appears that one start may be the difference between an option to Scranton and a jolt for the rest of the season.