Yankees’ Luis Severino breaks down why he’s struggled this spring

yankees, luis severino
Sep 26, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) reacts while walking to the dugout at the end of the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are already facing problems in the starting rotation, with Frankie Montas and Carlos Rodon heading to the injured list. Montas will likely miss most of the 2023 season, potentially keeping him out until August.

Rodon should be back in late April after suffering a left forearm strain, meaning the Yankees need to supplement things in the meantime. The remaining starting pitchers include Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortés, Luis Severino, and Domingo German. Clarke Schmidt is battling for a back-end rotation spot. Due to the injuries, he may have no choice but to feature there.

Cole has looked good this spring training, Cortes has yet to make a start, and Severino has struggled to get going. In fact, Severino hosts a 9.35 ERA across 8.2 innings, striking out 10 batters over three appearances. Obviously, these aren’t the numbers we are used to when it comes to Severino, but he has a good reason for his inconsistencies.

“That my slider sucks, that’s what they’re telling me right now,” Severino said after his most recent start. “I need to work more on my slider. It’s not the movement, it’s just location actually.” 

Via the New York Post.

The Yankees know this is part of Luis Severino’s ramp-up:

Severino’s slider is the bread and butter of his pitch repertoire. He threw his slider 21.1% of the time in 2022, generating a .169 batting average, two homers, and 44 strikeouts. It generated a 41.6% whiff rate and a 29.3% put-away rate. In fact, it produces 82% more horizontal movement than the average pitcher and 13% more vertical movement.

“For me, that’s the pitch that takes longer to get ready,” Severino said. “I just need to work on location more. But everything else was really good.” 

With Severino’s slider requiring a bit more work ahead of the regular season, we should expect him to improve gradually. Maybe he will make two more appearances before Opening Day, allowing him to iron out any deficiencies and work on locating his slider appropriately.

Manager Aaron Boone mirrored Severino’s take on why he’s struggled recently. Given the fact that his slider is his primary strike-out pitch, finishing off batters has become difficult with poor location.

“His slider’s kind of the last thing to sharpen up because his stuff’s there,” Boone said. “It looks good. Today was another good outing, good step for him. Coming out real easy, he’s staying in his delivery, he’s got a really good feel of his changeup already. So I’m encouraged where he’s at.” 

The good news is that Severino’s velocity looks solid, and it’s slowly creeping up, so all that is left is for his slider to reach its max potential, and his numbers should improve significantly.