New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reasserted his commitment to making Luis Severino pan out as a starter, and it couldn’t be more reasonable.
After bursting onto the Bronx scene with an absolutely stellar first cup of coffee in the majors (5-3, 2.89 ERA in 2015), the 22-year old took a discouraging step back in ’16.
In as many starts as he registered in his rookie campaign (11), Severino went 0-8 with an 8.50 ERA and served up 11 home runs in 47.2 innings of work. His K/9 ratio also declined from 8.1 to 7.7 while his opponent’s batting average spiked from .229 to .337.
The silver lining of his sophomore season was, however, his concise stint in a relief role. In 23.1 innings of relief, the righty held opponents to a .105/.209/.158 slash line and maintained a 0.39 ERA with 25 strikeouts.
More impressively, his strikeout-per-nine ratio sat at 9.6 out of the ‘pen while his rate, as mentioned beforehand, was 7.7 as a starter. Additionally, he did not surrender a single home run while teams totaled just 12 total bases off him.
We’ve analyzed why he’s such a threat out of the bullpen and how a move to a relief role shouldn’t be unwelcomed down the road. Now, however, general manager Brian Cashman is sticking to his word and isn’t so trigger-happy with a move to the ‘pen.
Brendan Kuty of NJ.com reported that Cashman will send Severino to the minors as a starter if he does not make the rotation out of spring training.
That is completely justified.
Sevy has always had elite talent and still, at 22-years of age, has enormous upside in his arm. Remember, this was a kid who quickly climbed the ladder through the minors and still has tons of potential development left.
In fact, one of his downfalls during his second stint in the majors was the “rawness” of his repertoire.
There was an obvious lack of command in his fastball and the kid isn’t so confident in his changeup at the big league level. Yes, you want to see a youngster dominate in the minors, but Severino’s dominance resulted in the absence of the need to refine his arsenal — something that Severino is learning the hard way, but not something that can’t be tuned.
Especially since one of his major obstacles is a lack of control with his fastball and a tasteless changeup. If Severino fixes these two at some time this season, you should be the opposite of bewildered.
In the end, for a rebuilding franchise that’s in desperate need to groom a quality starter, giving up on a pitcher of Severino’s caliber already is an unwise and a narrow-minded decision.
Although hard to see after a disastrous 2016, there’s easily too much value to give up if the Yankees try to milk a bit of quality production out of Severino as a reliever in year two of this “re-tool.”
Until the organization is convinced he won’t be a starter, which shouldn’t be declared until, perhaps, his age 25 season, there isn’t much to benefit off Severino the reliever (1.84 +WPA) compared to Severino the starter (4.95 +WPA).