The Yankees starting rotation is suspect, at best. We start with that premise as a given. With the exceptions of CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka, there’s more that we don’t know about the remaining three than we do know. Each has had their set of problems to deal with, and solutions have been hard to reach. But, we’re starting to hear some encouraging things about and from one of the three that could translate into him having a solid year in 2017.
It’s hard to believe, but Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino will be in his sixth season with the organization, at the age of only 22 when the 2017 season begins. It’s been a roller coaster ride for the man from the Dominican Republic, and generally, things have gotten worse and not better in recent years.
Yankees Look To 2017 As A Pivotal Year For Severino
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2016, for instance, provides a snapshot of what it’s like for both Severino and the Yankees. The team decides that he’s not ready for prime time and they send him to AAA Scranton for a tuneup. He excels there, going 8-1 with a 3.49 ERA in 13 starts over 77 innings. Back with the big club, though, everything falls apart. In 22 appearances (yes, they used him out of the bullpen too) and 11 starts, he falls to 3-8 with a 5.83 ERA and an almost off the charts WHIP of 1.4 something.
To be clear, he’s not quite ready to join Michael Pineda, who sits with one hand in the fire already, while the other one is grasping at straws as to how he can resurrect his career in a Yankees uniform. Nevertheless, though, Severino is under the watchful eyes of the organization, and with the wealth of talent the organization has right behind him, Severino could find himself at the short end of the straw if things don’t pick up, and quickly.
The Yankees need to do their part too. Bouncing him around between the bullpen and the starting rotation can’t be helping the kid, and we don’t need another Joba Chamberlain fiasco that, basically, ruins his career.
The Yankees And Severino See A Ray Of Light
Thankfully, though, there may be a reason for optimism as MLB.com reports that Severino believes his problems last year stem from having release point issues with his fastball, changeup, and slider. With the help of both pitching coach Larry Rothschild and the legendary Pedro Martinez, Severino has worked to fix those problems this offseason.
“I’m doing very well,” Severino said. “I’ve been throwing my bullpen and my changeup is way better than last year. My fastball location is better, too. So hopefully in spring training it’ll be good.”
At the insistence of the team, Severino has also dropped 10 pounds from his 6’2″ 215 lb frame. And although he was near dynamite coming out of the bullpen last season, it appears that the Yankees intend to keep him in a starting role, even if it means beginning the season in Scranton again. Of that, Severino appears to be grateful telling the same reporter:
“(Brian Cashman) knows I’m going to be a good starter,” he said. “I’m happy with that. I want to start. That’s my goal.”