Yankees make starting pitching change against Tampa as Severino heads to Covid list

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

The New York Yankees are preparing to host the Tampa Bay Rays in the final game of a three-game series on Thursday night. Starting pitcher Luis Severino was projected to take the mound but was placed on the COVID-19 list prior to the start of the game at 7:05 PM.

Severino has had a stellar comeback season after making his way back from Tommy John surgery and a groin injury last year. The 28-year-old veteran host, a 2.80 ERA over 61 innings, pitched, logging a 10.48 strikeouts per nine rate and an 84.2% left on base rate. His 42.1% ground ball rate is the highest it’s been since 2017 — his best season in the MLB.

Who will pitch for Luis Severino?

In place of Severino, the Yankees will start Clarke Schmidt on Thursday night. The 26-year-old right-handed pitcher has mainly served as a bullpen arm this year, hosting a 3.26 ERA over 19.1 innings. His 44.2% ground ball rate and 64.8% left on base rate are solid, but there’s still more to be desired.

Schmidt features a fastball, change-up, and cutter. His fastball hovers around 95 mph, using a four-seamer 20.9% of the time and sinker at 22.6%. He also mixes in his curveball at 16.3%, down from 28.7% last season. Schmidt was likely the last resort, given the proximity to the start of the game.

Tampa Bay is featuring Jalen Beeks on the mound in what is expected to be a bullpen game for both teams after Drew Rasmussen was placed on the injured list before Thursday’s game. Beeks is a two-pitch pitcher featuring a fastball and change-up. His fastball hovers around 95 mph with a change-up at 90.2 mph. If the Yankees can tag him in the first evenings, they can generate some run production for Schmidt.

Luckily, Severino shouldn’t miss much time on the Covid list. At the end of the day, it could’ve been much worse, given his injury history.