Yankees add catalyst to the starting rotation

luis severino, yankees
May 21, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) pitches against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

In response to demoting Johny Brito to Triple-A, the Yankees activated Luis Severino off the injured list after he spent months rehabilitating from a lat injury.

The return of Severino was intended to serve a crucial role – fortifying the rotation with experienced leadership.

In the initial part of the 2023 season, the Yankees relied heavily on Brito and Clarke Schmidt, making Severino’s first outing against the Cincinnati Reds memorable.

The Yankees were in dire need of greater efficiency from their rotation, and Severino did not disappoint. He delivered a strong performance over 4.2 innings, allowing four hits, one earned run, and striking out five batters. Out of the 75 pitches he threw, 54 were strikes, resulting in a 1.93 ERA.

“I feel pretty good,” Severino commented, per the New York Post. “I feel like I was attacking the zone after the first walk. But everything else was really good.”

The Yankees desperately needed Luis Severino back:

It was a welcome sight to see Severino commanding the strike zone and displaying his old form – an assertive starter with formidable stuff. Following a remarkable recovery in 2022, where he recorded a 3.18 ERA and nearly 10 strikeouts per nine across 102 innings, this was precisely the kind of performance the Yankees were hoping for.

During his rehab assignments, the 29-year-old recorded a peak fastball velocity of 98 mph, consistently delivering around this speed throughout the match.

In fact, his top speed clocked in at 98.6 mph, averaging 96.7 mph on his fastball, showcasing increased proficiency as the game continued.

“I was saving some bullets for the end there,” Severino remarked. “I knew my leash wasn’t going to be long. … I wanted to make sure I’m good.”

As he only pitched 4.2 innings, the Yankees are still carefully managing his usage to guarantee he stays healthy and continues to make solid progress.

Recently, Severino had expressed doubts about the Yankees’ rehab process, suggesting he could have returned sooner. Nevertheless, he is ultimately thrilled to be back with the team, making a positive impact.

“I thought [Severino] kept getting better,” said manager Aaron Boone. “He finished the day, probably in his mind, emptying the tank there a little bit. So he had a little extra juice even there at the end of his outing. But I thought overall, he was sharp.”

Should the Yankees successfully reintegrate Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortés begins to regain his confidence, the starting rotation could rapidly evolve into one of the best in baseball. This was the expectation many held upon observing the group on paper prior to spring training, before the onset of injuries disrupted plans.

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