New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman commented on the state of Luis Severino and it’s not unexpected by any degree.
Last season, the 22-year old came into his sophomore season fresh off a rookie campaign in which he went 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA — or what many thought would be a mere sneak peek at something great.
Now, just a couple months away from Spring Training coming off a year in which he had an 8.50 ERA as a starter and a 0.39 ERA as a reliever, Cashman is making zero promises.
“He still possesses all that upside and ceiling, but obviously he will have to re-prove that in 2017 to earn a spot in the rotation at the major league level,” Cashman told Adam Marchand of ESPN. “If not, the expectation is that he would go to Triple-A.”
This comes as no surprise. After all, it would be a crime to declare Severino a reliever this early in his career — no matter what the signs say.
Despite how stellar this kid is out of the ‘pen (.105/.209/.158 opponent’s slash line), the Yankees need to understand that there is still a window to let Sevy figire things out — and manager Joe Girardi agrees.
And the fact that the organization protests the urge to reject him as a starter is quite rational.
Severino bestowed the skill to thrive in a starter’s role in 2015 (11 GS, 5-3, 2.89 ERA) during a pennant race and New York will undoubtedly take much more out of a good starter, at this point, than a solid reliever.
Behind Masahiro Tanaka, who maintained the third-best ERA in the American League, CC Sabathia, who’s coming off his season since 2012, and Michael Pineda who was the AL Leader in K/9, the Yankees have young guns battling it out for the final two spots.
Potential? Sure. But the concern that Tanaka will be able to even out the aged Sabathia, the puzzler that is Michael Pineda and unproven arms outweighs any source of optimism.
That’s why the organization should take this season and go all in on waiting for Severino to pan out as a starter. After ’17, I believe you make the switch to the bullpen – if it’s not working.
Instead of declaring him as a reliever at this moment in time, the source of why he is much better in relief must be found. The main issue is, as a starter, the phenom grappled with his secondary pitches to no success, requiring him to rely solely on his fastball.
With that, came the realization that you cannot overpower major league hitters, as a starter, with just your fastball. Particularly when facing batters more than a couple times an outing.
While his slider is respectable, his changeup — which he has thrown only 10.01% this season, per Brooks Baseball — must be developed in order for the kid to meet his full potential.
In the end, Cashman’s comment comes with zero astonishment. Yeah, it’s hard to believe that Severino could start 2017 at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Baree, but it’s way too early to force a 22-year old arm that has the utmost potential in the rotation to the ‘pen.