The fate of Luis Severino has been unknown since his arrival in the Bronx, but the New York Yankees would fare far better with his arm in the bullpen.
At the ripe age of 20 years old, Luis Severino was ranked the number one prospect in the New York Yankees organization. The Yankees worked hard to keep him in their system until his call-up in 2015.
But since then, he has bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen. This season was one of unknowns for Severino and the Yankees. Severino succumbed to an injury in May, but not after he imploded at 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA.
The injury gave the Yankees time to reexamine the future of their flame-throwing young gun. A promising prospect, Severino’s first stint in the Bronx hinted at a bright future for the star. In his 11 starts in 2015, Severino pitched six or more innings eight times. When the 2016 season rolled around, Severino was a lock for a starting spot. That is, until, he underperformed.
But it was his time in the Yankees bullpen that raised eyebrows. From a prospect who was destined to be a dominant starting pitcher, it was a breath of fresh air to see him excel in the later innings. His first appearance out of the ‘pen saw him toss two strong innings, walking one and striking out three.
That, my friends, is the beginning of a new chapter in Severino’s career. It’s a chapter that should continue for the rest of his career.
Even with his dominance in the bullpen, the Yankees still put him back in the starting role for two games. In those games, he gave up a combined 12 earned runs. Even though the Yankees still have faith in him in the starting role, the numbers don’t lie. This season, Severino made a strong case for his status as a top-tier reliever.
With the shorter innings working in his favor, Severino went straight to the role of middle relief and made an impression right away. With the ability to toss three or four innings, Severino’s versatility was a major key to the Yankees’ playoff run.
In 12 appearances as a reliever, Severino only allowed two earned runs while striking out 26. Giving Severino a chance to have shortened appearances allows his velocity to remain consistent. He doesn’t tire out, even in outings where he goes four innings. He’s been a reliable bridge between inconsistent starting pitchers and a dominant closer.
It’s time to stop playing the back-and-forth game the Yankees tend to do with their starting pitchers. Yes, it’s okay to test out starters in the bullpen, but it is unfair to constantly shuffle them back and forth. The starting position and late inning relievers have different roles and a different approach. Keeping Severino in the ‘pen is just what the Yankees need.
Remember Tyler Clippard? Coming up as a pitcher, he’s found a home in the bullpen, where his pitching style is more effective. Mariano Rivera? Originally groomed to become a starter, he was shuffled to the bullpen, only to become arguably the greatest closer of all time.
If Severino’s performance from the ‘pen teaches us anything, it proves that you shouldn’t mess with a good thing. The Yankees have finally found a reliable middle reliever to use for multiple innings. Why change that?
Severino needs to be in the bullpen if the Yankees want a shot at fixing the issues they struggled with all season long. Who knows? Maybe a full season of Severino in relief will give the Yankees a boost to the playoffs.