Luis Severino
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton are nice pitchers, but young Luis Severino remains the New York Yankees top dog, the rotation’s ace. 

With little to discuss in the offseason and the New York Yankees clearly in the market for rotation help, the topic surrounding how 1-through-5 stacks up remains a pertinent one.

Whatever the order may be, a horse is desperately needed. Just a quick glance at the 2019 ALCS reminds the Bronx of that fact.

While the Yankees could acquire one in Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, there’s a strong possibility the club lands neither stud righty. So, if they don’t acquire an ace, who is the ace?

Luis Severino is not only the ace of the staff, he is one of the top pitchers in all of baseball.

The 25-year old star pitcher missed almost all of 2019 due to injury and that caused some pause for people. When he returned, the stuff wasn’t as sharp, but Severino was effective in short bits.

After what was a second half of tipping pitches in 2018 and missing 2019 due to injury, people can forget just how good Severino really is.

Since 2017, Severino’s 11.5 fWAR ranks in the top 15 in baseball. He’s done that with under 400 innings during that time frame. There are only two other pitchers in the top 20 who have less than 450 innings pitched. Mike Clevinger (17th) and James Paxton (13th). If you prorate Severino’s fWAR to 550 innings since 2017, his fWAR is now 15.9, which is sixth in all of baseball.

There’s no way around it: Severino is one of the best pitchers in the game.

What a player has accomplished is important, but today’s mindset in baseball measures future productivity. And for Severino, that potential is sky-high.

Severino hasn’t reached his full potential and still posted back-to-back seasons of a 3.25 SIERA. He also posted a park-adjusted xFIP, aka xFIP-, of 72 during that time. He was 29% better than league average and has ranked fifth in all of baseball during the past three seasons in that category. His 3.28 SIERA over the past three seasons is ninth in all of baseball.

In almost every advanced category, Severino ranks in the top 10. So why are fans still doubting him?

As already mentioned, his missed time due to injury. Combine that with the tipping pitches issue and, understandably, fans sweat a bit.

Small sample sizes of bad play don’t outdo large sample sizes of terrific play. If we look at the beginning of 2017 through the All-Star game of 2018, Severino was a force. He ranked in the top five in the following categories during that time period: ERA, FIP, xFIP, SIERA, K% and K-BB%. The last four of those metrics are big indicators for how pitchers will fare moving forward.

Obviously, it’d be wrong to ignore his struggles in the second half of 2018. However, the Yankees believe he was tipping pitches in the second half. There’s plenty of video evidence to support that. With a new pitching coach coming in, with a new philosophy, Severino could thrive.

When Yankee fans clamour for an ace, as if there’s no stud on the club, it’s an absolute smack in the face, a discredit to Severino.

Yes, three ace-caliber pitchers are better than two, which is better than one. Yankees fans, appropriately so, are hoping for Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg because they are great pitchers who make the team better.

Just don’t hope for either while thinking the Yankees need an ace. They arguably already employ two pitchers of that caliber and one is a young stud ready for great things.

A healthy Luis Severino is a top pitcher in baseball and that shouldn’t be forgotten.


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