New York Yankees’ young phenom Luis Severino has been lighting it up in Triple-A which may pave the way towards earning his spot back with the big-league club.Coming into this season, there was no way the New York Yankees envisioned a demotion happening to one of their most prized prospects, especially after a dominating introduction to major league baseball.
Armed with an alluring stockpile of pitches highlighted by an electric fastball, put away slider, and a top-notch work ethic, Luis Severinowas ready to take the New York stage by storm and boy did he do it.
Called up to provide a possible spark to a shaky rotation in 2015, he did precisely that by posting a 5-3 record featuring a 2.89 ERA across 62.1 innings. Take away one poor start against the Toronto Blue Jays (6 ER, 2.1 IP) and his numbers might actually have been more sufficient.
Coming into this year, many “experts” justifiably deemed him to be the most talented starter on the Yankees’ rotation while some were ready to call him the ace despite the fact that he only had a mere 62.1 innings on his Major League resume. As you may know, that route headed south in a jiffy.
To start his promising sophomore season, Sevy surrendered three runs on ten hits en route to a 4-0 loss which is not putrid but what happened across his next six starts had fans in a frenzy as they played witness to one of the most hyped up pitching prospects falter before their very own eyes.
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From April 15 to May 13, Severino posted a 0-5 record with an astronomical ERA of 7.80 while allowing the opposition to maintain a .928 OPS. The man who was once viewed as a future ace had let the hype of leading the franchise into a new era get to him and following a stint on the disabled list after straining his right triceps, he was not granted a roster spot in the Bronx.
Instead, he was sent to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to work out his kinks which is the fact that there were inconsistencies in regards to his arsenal of pitches.
Sure, he can pack a 98-MPH fastball but a player in this league can take that and hit it 500 feet if left up in the zone. According to Brooks Baseball, out of all the pitches that batters have put into play off Severino, a staggering 43% of the pitches were in the middle or upper portion of the zone. So, there was no surprise that New York shipped him to the electric city to work on location.
In four starts as a member of the Railriders following his rehab stint, he owns a 3-0 record with a 2.52 ERA highlighted by a strikeout-per-nine ratio of 8.6. This could do wonders for the 22-year old’s confidence, but his team is not yet convinced he is ready to return despite coming off an outing in which he went 8.1 innings on Saturday.
In that game, Sevy took a no-hitter into the sixth but manager Joe Girardi made sure he got his eyes on the tape.
“It still needs some tuning up,” Girardi told NJ Media. “It’s location. Consistency is the big thing. You see some really good pitches, some well-located pitches, but it’s consistency and here you can’t leave ball in the middle of the plate or they get hammered. So I think a lot of times you have to look beyond the numbers.”
Beyond the numbers and at the 43% of the pitches that were left in the middle/upper portion of the strike zone in his 35 innings pitched in the bigs this year.
He appears healthy, confident, working like he knows how to yet again take the big stage under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium. But his ability to translate that into Major League success again remains the obstacle. Yes, he’s making strides and now it’s time to take that last step forward in his return to phenom status.
When he is ready, which he will be soon, there will be questions as to whether or not the Yankees should go to a six-man rotation or not but one thing’s for sure: the solid version of Severino could do wonders for a team that plans on contending here in 2016.