With theÂ New York YankeesÂ making several offseason moves to bolster their roster, some of their current talents are primed for big years in 2019. One such player is their young ace, Luis Severino. Despite pitching a stellar first half, his second half saw him show a considerable decline in performance. Now, with an offseason to work out those issues, which could include tipping pitches, Severino can look at 2019 as a chance to truly establish himself as a perennial Cy Young candidate.
2018 Stats (New York Yankees):
19-8, 3.39 ERA, 32 Starts, 220 SO, 191.1 IP, 1.145 WHIP, 4.7 WAR
By the 2018 All-Star Break, Severino was in line to finish as a top Cy Young contender. He went into the break 14-2 with a 2.31 ERA as he notched his second straight All-Star selection. This included a complete game shutout victory against the defending champion Houston Astros. After the break, however, his performance fell significantly, finishing the year 5-6 with a 5.57 ERA, concluding with a three-inning, six-run meltdown in game 3 of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox, leading to a 16-1 loss to the eventual world champions.
Possible Reasons for Struggles:
Severino’s decline baffled not just fans, but also manager Aaron Boone’s staff to an extent. It wasn’t until the Yankees season ended in the ALDS that they discovered that he might have been tipping his pitches. This suspicion was supported during that game when a NESN broadcast caught Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Junior say “fastball” to teammate Mookie Betts during the 2nd inning. The pitch Severino threw after that, a 98 MPH fastball, was fouled off by utility player Brock Holt.
According to an article by CBS writer Mike Axisa, another drop off in the second half could be in both fastball velocity and horizontal movement on his slider. His velocity fell by 0.7 MPH, which is considered huge for an in-season velocity drop off. Despite this, he still led MLB in average starter velocity, at 97.9.
His slider, especially later in the season, lost significant break, as well as effectiveness as a result. In June, his best month statistically, his slider broke at an average of just below 6″ inches. By August, it dipped under 5.5″ inches and was not much better in the playoffs.
Finally, his command seemed to suffer in the second half. Instead of getting strikes at the batter’s knees or the corners of the strike zone, he started to miss out over the plate.
What to expect in 2019?:
Coming into 2019, Severino has worked with pitching coach Larry Rothschild to fix his issues, especially the pitch tipping. To go along with this, newly unanimous Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera has said that he will work with the entire Yankees pitching staff. While not entirely likely, imagine Severino throwing a cutter. You’re welcome.
2019 is the year that Severino will need to prove himself to the Yankees fanbase. If he can be excellent throughout the season, the Yankees rotation can potentially rival that of Boston.