The Yankees received some pretty disappointing news, as Aaron Boone revealed that RHP Luis Severino experienced lat tightness after his last Spring Training outing. It’s being reported as a low-grade lat strain, and that he will start the 2023 season on the IL. Aaron Boone said he’ll be shut down from throwing for five to seven days, which isn’t the worst-case scenario, but certainly a setback for the Yankees. Severino suffered a much more severe lat sprain in 2022, missing two months after a rough July outing against the Cincinnati Reds where his velocity was down and the Yankees had to pull him mid-outing.
Who’s The Next Man Up For the Yankees?
Jhony Brito presents himself as the most MLB-ready option internally, and coming off of a season where he went 11-4 with a 2.96 ERA, but more importantly, it’s his elite groundball numbers and stellar command that stand out. He’s not going to put up elite strikeout numbers, but he’s certainly an arm that can stabilize the Yankees’ rotation for a couple of starts as Severino recovers. Assuming there aren’t any setbacks. Severino shouldn’t be out for too long considering he could throw again in as soon as five days. Brito’s posted a 3.52 ERA in 7.2 IP, not walking a single batter while striking out 19.4% of batters faced.
Brito relies on his four-seam fastball and changeup to generate vertical separation, with a curveball/sinker/slider that all grade as above-average pitches in terms of Stuff+. If the Yankees want to yield better results from the 25-year-old right-hander, it’s paramount that they utilize his sinker more than his four-seam fastball, as it’s his best fastball offering and should generate more contact on the ground. The Yankees have a starter in Brito who can t least eat some innings and generate weak contact, albeit it’ll come at the price of not getting as many swings and misses.
Time to Press the Panic Button for Severino?
When it comes to negotiating a potential extension or re-upping his contract at the end of the season this certainly complicates that. With that being said, this injury doesn’t seem like it’ll sideline him for a significant portion of the season. It’s likely he returns sometime in April or May assuming there aren’t setbacks, and that’s roughly when you can expect the return of Carlos Rodon as well. The Yankees are certainly a worse team without Luis Severino, but a smaller stint on the IL creates an easier path to preventing runs in small samples with him out.
As previously mentioned, Jhony Brito could be called upon to supplement Severino’s spot in the rotation, but they have the bullpen depth to use Michael King, Matt Krook, or Jimmy Cordero in multi-inning roles and bridge their way to the back-end of the bullpen. While not sustainable over the course of a full season, it’s plausible over the course of three or four starts. As more information comes out, we’ll have a better understanding of the timeline for his return, but for now, it seems that the Yankees can keep Severino in their long-term plans for 2023.
An added emphasis will be placed on the Yankees to get production from their bullpen and guys like Domingo German and Clarke Schmidt, but they’ve been more than capable of doing that before. It’s possible that they trade for a starter as well, with Gleyber Torres potentially being moved for a starter and opening up an avenue to get both Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe in the starting lineup together. It’s a long season, but the Yankees may have dodged another serious injury to a key starter in their rotation.