Entering 2016, Yankee-land assumed they had their “future ace” and the leader of the Baby Bombers.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out in Luis Severino’s sophomore season, as his 5-3 record and 2.89 ERA in 11 starts from ’15 was not built on as it was anticipated.
In the same number of starts (11), the 22-year old went 0-8 with an 8.50 ERA while serving up 11 home runs and 70 hits in 47.2 innings of work in 2016. His opponent’s batting average also spiked from .229 to .337.
Following a couple of demotions to the minors, Sevvy pitched in 23.1 innings out of the bullpen and held opponents to a .105/.209/.158 slash line, while maintaining a 0.39 ERA and striking out 25.
We’ve mapped out why Severino does so well in relief and why a move to a ‘pen role shouldn’t be unwelcomed in the future, but the truth of the matter is a 22-year old shouldn’t be given up on just yet.
Sharpening his changeup to complement his electric fastball and slider, which produces an extreme number of groundballs, could bring back the results we saw in 2015.
In his rookie campaign, Severino used his changeup 14.55 percent and his fastball 51.4 percent of the time which, thanks to a healthy mix, helped his fastball maintain a .258 batting average against, according to Brooks Baseball.
Last season, however, the use of his changeup dropped into the single-digits while his fastball usage increased to 56% (slider usage did not vary).
With that, we saw a spike in opponent’s batting average off the right’s fastball to .302.
Think that mix (or lack thereof) doesn’t mean much? First off, these are major league hitters and they can adjust flawlessly to even the best fastballs without a wholesome mix, but when facing batters for the first time in 2016, they hit .237 off his fastball, .182 off his changeup and .135 off of his slider.
For the third (or more) time, batters hit .278 off Severino’s fastball, .500 off his changeup, and .313 off his slider.
Basically, his usage didn’t allow his pitches “fool” major league batters more than once in a game, but if Severino can sharpen his toolset into Spring Training, he should be able to return to the version we saw in his first cup of coffee.