The Yankees could sign 7.98 ERA starting pitcher to one-year extension

mlb: kansas city royals at new york yankees, luis severino
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees experienced another setback, losing 5-0 against the Atlanta Braves, marking their fourth consecutive loss. The spotlight was firmly on starting pitcher Luis Severino, who continued his downward trajectory this season.

Severino’s Underwhelming Performance With the Yankees

Severino’s recent form starkly contrasts his impressive 2022 season, where he showcased a 3.18 ERA, 3.38 xFIP, 9.88 strikeouts per nine, a 79.9% left on base rate, and 44.3% ground ball rate. Given his prior performance, many anticipated that the $15 million club option chosen by general manager Brian Cashman would be a savvy move. But with the Yankees’ dwindling playoff hopes, challenging decisions loom this off-season.

The hard facts paint a grim picture for Severino. His current ERA stands at 7.98, his strikeouts are at their lowest since his rookie year in 2015, averaging 8.11 per nine innings. Furthermore, he’s walking close to four batters per nine innings and allowing 2.66 home runs per nine – yet another unfortunate career high. With a left-on-base percentage of 62.1% and a career-low 40.4% ground ball generation, the pitcher is clearly not at his best.

While his fastball maintains a strong average velocity of 96.7 mph, the efficacy and precision of his pitches leave much to be desired. Severino’s July stats reflect a concerning 11.22 ERA with 27 earned runs and seven homers in just 21.2 innings. August hasn’t been much kinder, with a 10.80 ERA and 12 earned runs across 10 innings.

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Analyzing the Pitch Data

The divergence between expectations and reality is stark. The homegrown talent, once celebrated, now battles his worst professional phase. Last season, Severino’s four-seam fastball registered a .186 batting average against, but this year, it skyrocketed to .374. Batters are slugging .719 against his fastball, a significant rise from last year’s .377.

Moreover, his change-up, which last season had a .235 average against, now stands at .268. Most alarmingly, his slider, which was at .169 last year, is now at a staggering .321, even with a 41.7% whiff rate. The crux of the issue seems to revolve around his pitch location and accuracy, transforming him into a vulnerable asset on the mound.

The overarching sentiment suggests that Severino’s troubles are more psychological than physical, potentially overthinking each pitch, which amplifies his missteps.

Yankees’ Future Game Plan

However, there’s a silver lining. If the pitch data remains consistent, especially regarding velocity and spin rates, Cashman might see the merit in re-signing Severino on a favorable “prove-it” deal. Quality starters come at a premium, making this a calculated risk that could yield dividends.

Given the high stakes in the upcoming market, unless the Yankees plan to bank on younger talents like Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez, they might consider rolling the dice with Severino in the next off-season.