Luis Severino was recently promoted to the New York Yankees and sent to the bullpen. Is it possible that the young phenom is better suited there?
No, the former top New York Yankees prospect has never had a relief appearance in his brief major league career. In fact, Luis Severino has only had two relief outings throughout his minor league career.
Also, up until his struggles early in 2016, he was only considered to be a top-tier starter ready to become the ace of the organization that signed him as an amateur free agent back in 2011.
Following his call-up to the Bronx a year ago, Severino brought a satisfying young presence to a contending team in dire need of a quality arm.
In fact, New York is likely left out of the playoffs for a third consecutive year if Sevy didn’t post a 5-3 record featuring a 2.89 ERA across 62.1 innings of work in 2015.
Thanks to that, many “experts” justifiably deemed him to be the most talented starter on the Yankees’ rotation while some were ready to call him an ace despite the fact that he only had 11 starts on his Major League resume.
However, those expectations fell amazingly flat as Severino posted a 0-5 record with an astronomical ERA of 7.80 while allowing the opposition to maintain a .928 OPS from April 15 to May 13.
Those numbers influenced his dismal sophomore season that stands at 0-6 with an ERA of 7.46 in seven starts. With that, he was sent to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to work on his inconsistencies in hopes to get back on track, which he did.
There, in 10 starts for the RailRiders, Severino went 7-1 with a 3.25 ERA and struck out 57 batters in 63.2 innings. However, 54 hits to go along with that wasn’t very encouraging.
Nevertheless, in the wake of the Aroldis Chapman trade, Severino – who has not pitched in the majors since May 13 – was called back up but this time, his assigned role was in the bullpen for the time being.
So now we get into it. Could Luis Severino possibly be a bullpen arm? Before you have nightmarish flashbacks to Joba Chamberlain and the “Joba Rules,” relive a satisfying memory like the time Phil Hughes shifted into a bullpen role back in 2009.
In 2008, Hughes struggled mightily after posting a 5-3 record in 13 starts in his rookie year (sound familiar?). In his sophomore season, his 0-4 record along with a 6.62 ERA earned him a demotion along with a brand spanking new role come his third season with New York.
After seven starts in which he gave up 22 runs in 34.2 innings, the Yankees decided to put him in the ‘pen and he thrived once in his new role.
In 44 relief appearances, Hughes maintained a 1.40 ERA over 51.1 innings and held the opposition to a slash line of .172/.228/.228 while only giving up two home runs.
What made this former “future ace” thrive in such a bullpen role? Hughes – who owned an electric fastball with inconsistent support pitches – was able to go all out. Hughes didn’t have to worry about facing a major league lineup once, twice, three times while trying to remain “hard to guess.”
I presume Severino would profit exceedingly by coming in for an inning or two and letting his electric 98-MPH fastball fly. Not only that, but he could contribute some sort of assurance to the dismal middle relief unit that has not provided a sufficient bridge to the back-end of the bullpen.
There is no guarantee, however. It would be ignorant to state that a shift in roles would definitely help the 22-year old salvage his sophomore season.
You all saw what happened with Ivan Nova when he tried the transition. He maintained a 5.14 ERA in his new role and gave up 16 hits in 14 innings making it evident that some guys are just not comfortable in the ‘pen.
Also, seeing the Yankees starting to push Nova during this year’s trade deadline season means that – if he were to be dealt – Severino would regain a spot in the rotation.
However, it’s not asinine to wonder how he’d do in a bullpen role. As a rookie, no one knew what he had to bring to the table. Therefore, his inconsistent slider and changeup were easily covered up by his electric fastball en route to an 8.1 strikeout per nine innings along with a 1.3 home run rate as a rookie starter.
Now, after almost a year of service time, batters have a gameplan against him which is evident by his severely decreased 6.9 K/9 and a 2.1 home run rate in his second year.
This is all speculation. Will he regain his form from a year ago ad light up Yankee Stadium as a starting pitcher? His arsenal is elite, so maybe. Could he thrive in a bullpen role? Considering he could throw all his pitches at max effort, perhaps.
It’s just shocking to believe that this option has gotten a severe lack of attention. The Yankees need to consider a bullpen role for Sevy for the remaining portion of the season.