The Yankees have a Luis Severino problem

luis severino, yankees
Jun 13, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a thrilling 7-6 victory over their Subway Series rivals, the New York Mets, the New York Yankees‘ starting pitching significantly faltered in Queens. The focus, in particular, is on Luis Severino and his recent string of underwhelming performances.

A Deep Dive into Severino’s Struggles

Severino currently holds a concerning 6.48 ERA over five starts after his return from a lat injury he picked up during spring training. The Yankees had banked on Severino to deliver his previously displayed All-Star-level quality. Although he commenced his season on a high note, allowing just two earned runs over 12.1 innings, his subsequent performances have been alarmingly inconsistent.

Before the game, the 29-year-old impending free agent had a 5.75 ERA. Comparing this to his 2022 performance, which boasted a 3.18 ERA with nearly ten strikeouts per nine, a 79.9% left-on-base rate, and a 44.3% ground ball rate, highlights the severity of his downturn.

Severino’s current predicament is characterized by more home runs, more walks, fewer strikeouts, culminating in a significantly more vulnerable pitcher.

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Severino’s Reflections and Recent Performance

“I didn’t get better,” Severino said. “I need to be a better pitcher. I feel like every time they give me the ball, I’m not helping the team right now. I just need to figure out what’s going on. Hopefully I can do that soon.”

In his Tuesday night clash with the Mets, Severino managed only 4.2 innings, utilizing 104 pitches for a meager 67 strikes. He conceded five earned runs, gave three walks, struck out four, and allowed seven hits. Consequently, the bullpen had to intervene, barely securing the Yankees a win, and extending the Mets’ disheartening losing streak.

Severino’s Pitch Repertoire and Potential Causes for Decline

Analyzing Severino’s pitch usage, we see his usual mix of four-seam fastball, change-up, slider, along with a sprinkle of a cutter. However, a stark difference emerges when comparing the success rates. This season, opponents are batting .333 against his fastball, a stark contrast to the .186 in 2022.

Moreover, his fastball has lost substantial vertical movement, suggesting a potential decrease in spin rate. Similarly, his slider is performing below the standards set in 2022. Notably, he was grappling with his slider during spring training before his injury, which could still be affecting his game.

Intriguingly, his velocity has slightly increased compared to the past, indicating that the issue is unlikely to be arm strength-related. It could potentially be attributed to issues with pitch location.

Luis Severino’s Future with the Yankees

Severino has demonstrated his capability to deliver elite performances in the past, but his current lack of confidence is palpable. The Yankees need to figure out a strategy to rebuild his mindset before his next start.

With GM Brian Cashman having activated his $15 million option for this season, there exists a possibility of Severino walking away in free agency next off-season. Given his injury history, it’s fair to label him as ‘injury-prone’. The Yankees, already burdened with such players, cannot afford more of the same.

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