Yankees’ Brian Cashman explains decision to shut down Luis Severino for WBC

New York Yankees, Luis Severino
Jul 13, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone (17) talks with starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees‘ decision that starting pitcher Luis Severino shouldn’t pitch in the World Baseball Classic was simple. Severino is coming off his first year back from significant injury troubles dating back to 2019. He pitched just 18 innings between 2019–21, finally reaching 100 this past season across 19 appearances.

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Maintaining Severino’s help is a priority for general manager Brian Cashman, especially with Frankie Montas dealing with shoulder inflammation and likely to miss the first few weeks of the regular season.

“We support our players going [to the WBC], but when a player like Luis Severino, who has had an injury history the last few years … that’s not in our best interest given losing him so far over the last few years,” Cashman said in an interview with 670 The Score in Chicago on Saturday morning. “Having him pitch competitive, championship-contending World Baseball Classic innings in March, versus preparation innings in March for your long-haul season, that was a decision I had to make.”

Transcirbed by: Max Goodman of SI

Severino hosted a 3.18 ERA, 3.38 xFIP, 9.88 strikeouts per nine, and 80% left-on-base rate across 102 innings last year. Watching his velocity return to normal and maintain the electrifying movement on his slider, operating with caution, isn’t a surprise. Cashman needs to do whatever it takes to maintain the health of his starting rotation, even if that means stopping Severino from playing for the Dominican Republic, his native country.

“I respect he wanted to play, but I gotta protect the Yankees first,” Cashman added. “He’s too important to us. His injury history the last few years, it’s better to get him out of the gate nice and slow.”

The Yankees are thinking about the nature of a 162-game regular season:

Given the requirements of a long, grueling baseball season, tacking on a few extra innings to Severino’s workload could have catastrophic results down the stretch in the playoffs. We saw what happened last year when fatigue caught up with pitchers, notably Nestor Cortés. The team even placed Severino on the 60-day IL due to a shoulder injury, but even the starter himself believed that amount of time wasn’t necessary.

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Severino’s Steamer projections have him pitching 145 innings this upcoming season, hosting a 3.56 ERA and 10 strikeouts per nine. If he can maintain those numbers and put together a strong second half of the year, Severino’s impact will be essential during elimination rounds, especially in a contract season.