Luis Severino bounced back from a miserable 2016 to earn his first All-Star appearance in 2017. Was it enough to get him on the honor roll?
With the offseason upon us, it’s time to break down this past season for New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino. We’ll break this up into four parts: His first half, second half, playoffs and overall season performance. How will his grades fare on his 2017 report card?
The 2017 season was a huge uncertainty for Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino. After making an impressive debut in 2015, going 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA and 56 strikeouts over 11 starts, he went through a serious sophomore slump in 2016. He posted a 3-8 record, a 5.83 ERA, 66 strikeouts, a demotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and a resurgence in the second half out of the bullpen.
Severino entered the year penciled in as the team’s No. 4 starter, behind Mashiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda. After his success coming out of the bullpen in the second half of 2016, some clamored for him to start the year as a long reliever. But most fans were anxious to see him start again. Nobody knew which Severino would show up: the hard-throwing strikeout machine from 2015 and who came out of the ‘pen, or would it be the wild, easily frazzled starter from the beginning of 2016.
Both the fans and organization were able to breathe a sigh of relief. In the first half of the season, Severino came out and put the doubts to bed. In 17 games, he went 5-4 with a 3.54 ERA while striking out 124. This solid half of baseball led to him receiving his first career All-Star nod and fans were left hoping he had more in the tank for the second half of the year.
Severino had a good first half, yet it could have been better. His ERA of 3.54 is solid, but leaves room for improvement. His win-loss record is also worth noting. While a pitcher’s record depends on the lineup on a day they start, Severino’s could have been better had his ERA been lower, maybe closer to a solid 3.00. Despite this, he struck out a lot of batters and earned the trip to Miami.
First Half Grade: A-
After the All-Star break is when Severino truly elevated and became the pitcher many thought he could be. His second half record was a commanding 9-2, his ERA dropped by over a run to 2.28 and, in his 14 starts, he struck out 106. With Tanaka still trying to figure it all out, this is where Severino became the ace of the Yankees staff.
It’s also when the rest of baseball as a whole took note. No longer was a Severino a hidden gem in the Bronx. He was now one of the game’s elite pitchers. He was a selling point when the Yankees were on nationally broadcasted games on Fox or ESPN.
Severino then received arguably the biggest achievement in his short career so far: finishing in the top three of the American League Cy Young Award race. He finished behind Boston’s Chris Sale and the 2017 winner, Cleveland’s Corey Kluber. To have his name along side two of baseball’s best shows that the ceiling on Severino is incredibly high and he is capable of getting up there.
Second Half Grade: A
The final area to grade Severino in is the playoffs. After his good first half and even better second half, the Yankees turned to their new ace for the American League Wild Card game against the Minnesota Twins. Unfortunately, the 21 year old seemed a bit overwhelmed and overmatched by a good fastball-hitting team. He was chased after only a third of an inning, allowing three runs on four hits, two of which were home runs.
He came back strong in the American League Divisional Series against the Cleveland Indians in the crucial fourth game of the series. He threw seven solid innings allowing three runs and striking out nine in his first ever postseason win.
In the Yankees final series of the season against the Houston Astros, Severino started twice. He was subpar, throwing a combined 8.2 innings, allowing four runs, only striking out three and uncharacteristically walking six batters.
While this was hardly the postseason anybody wanted, it can and should be forgiven. This was Severino’s first ever taste of the playoffs and he is only 21. There are going to be growing pains and it’s expected. He showed in the ALDS that he can put together a strong playoff outing and bounce back from such a bad one.
Postseason Grade: C
Overall, this season was a huge positive for Severino and the Yankees. He finished with an overall record of 14-6, a 2.98 ERA and had 230 strikeouts in 193.1 innings. The Yankees now have their ace of the future and have time to fix what they need to with him.
In a rebuilding year where he wasn’t even guaranteed a rotation spot, Severino stepped up and help lead the Yankees to within one game of the World Series. He is now their ace and is still years from hitting his prime. The craziest thing is that there is still room for improvement.