Luis Severino had a 2019 to forget as he missed most of the season recovering from a shoulder injury and a subsequent lat strain.Â His absence was sorely missed throughout the season as the New York Yankees lacked starting pitching of his caliber. Nevertheless, he returned in September to pitch 12 innings with only 2 earned runs and locked up a spot on the playoff roster.
The 2020 season will prove to be a different look for the Yankees and Severino himself.Â On Dec 10th, 2019, the New York Yankees signed Gerrit Cole to be the new anchor of their rotation. As for Severino, he will most likely come into spring training looking to lock up the number two spot in the rotation. This shift in the rotation could actually help Severino in various aspects of his game.
Gerrit Cole is a student of the game, always looking to improve every aspect of his abilities.Â Not only can he be a helpful mentor for Severino, but the two could also become a dynamic part of a Yankee postseason run.Â The two pitchers have very similar repertoires that they use to get hitters out. Both Cole and Severino utilize a high 90â€™s fastball while mixing in breaking pitches and offspeed.Â But if you break it down further, youâ€™ll notice more similarities. According to Fangraphs, last season Cole utilized that fastball 54 percent of the time while throwing his slider 23 percent of the time.Â In the limited action Severino had last season, he threw his fastball just over 56 percent of the time while throwing his slider right around 27 percent of the time. Each of the past 3 seasons, Gerrit Cole has thrown his fastball less and less while utilizing his breaking pitches and offspeed stuff more.Â This shift in pitch usage lines up perfectly with how the Yankees utilize their pitchers. Prior to the 2019 season, Severino was also on the same trajectory of throwing fewer fastballs and more breaking and offspeed pitches. Given Coleâ€™s success on this path given similar arsenals, itâ€™s fair to say that Severino can also be due for an ace caliber season.
Severino could also benefit from being shifted down a spot in the rotation.Â Itâ€™s easy to forget heâ€™s still only 25 years old and has been a big piece of their rotation for just a couple of years now.Â Having to burden the load as the New York Yankees Ace for the last couple seasons is a difficult burden to bear, especially as he still seems to be on the cusp of unlocking his own potential.Â This shift down could help alleviate the stress and the burden from him while he continues his own development.
As big of a loss as Severino was this past season, thereâ€™s more reason to expect that he comes back even better.Â Studies showing the effects of increasing pitch counts in young pitchers more than a certain percentage to where it causes regression in the following year.Â MLB managers pay close attention to a young pitcher’s innings to make sure they arenâ€™t overworked coming from the minor leagues. Prior to the 2017 season when the Yankees had Severino come into the season to compete for a starting job, his previous career-high in innings was the only 77IP.Â Baseball-reference has the 2017 and 2018 seasons seeing him throwing 193.1 and 191.1IP respectively. Thatâ€™s a 150 percent increase in just one season! Severino very well could have been hit with some major regression or at least some sort of pitching fatigue. This could also have helped him develop the aforementioned shoulder injury and subsequent lat strain.Â If anything, the time off rehabbing and getting back into game shape could be just what he needed to get back to being fully healthy and come into spring training fresh and ready to go.
This upcoming 2020 season has the potential to be a major step forward in development for Luis Severino as he looks to fulfill his potential as a perennial Cy Young contender and Co-Ace of the Yankees rotation now and for the future.