Yankees’ starting pitcher has imploded and is headed toward demotion

mlb: kansas city royals at new york yankees, luis severino
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

As we proceed into the 2023 baseball season, the New York Yankees had high hopes for starting pitcher Luis Severino to secure a significant role in their rotation. Regrettably, Severino’s performance has lacked consistency, displaying a worrying 7.49 ERA, 7.80 per nine, a 63.2% left on-base rate, a 39.5% ground ball rate, and a career high of 2.34 home runs allowed per nine across 57.2 innings.

Do the Yankees need to demote Luis Severino?

The Severino we’ve witnessed this season is starkly different; his pitches have lost their signature break, contributing to a steep decline in his efficiency. As he grapples with these performance issues at the age of 29 and in the middle of a contract year, it’s likely that Severino will need to opt for a one-year ‘prove it’ deal to regain his former quality. In this context, the chances of him remaining with the Yankees, the team that fostered his development and supported him through multiple season-ending injuries, seem slim.

Key Stats Against Baltimore Orioles

During a game against the Baltimore Orioles on a recent Sunday night, Yankees’ Severino allowed nine earned runs over ten hits in just 3.1 innings. His record included five strikeouts, two walks, and one home run, contributing to an inflated ERA of 11.22 in July. This followed a troubling performance in June, with an ERA of 6.93 and seven home runs over 24.2 innings.

Severino’s Troubling Record: An Indication for Change?

In the past two months, Severino has allowed 14 home runs and 77 hits in less than 50 innings—a significant statistic that might necessitate consideration for his demotion. The Yankees can no longer rely on Severino as a key starter in their rotation, particularly as their grasp on the Wild Card weakens and the urgency to secure wins grows with only two months left in the regular season.

General Manager Brian Cashman doesn’t appear to be planning any substantial changes at the deadline, especially concerning the acquisition of above-average starting pitchers. Unless he intends to trade Gleyber Torres to the Miami Marlins—an option seemingly popular among speculations—the Yankees might have to make do with their current struggling rotation, which is far from demonstrating World Series-level performance.

A Deep Dive into Severino’s Pitching Arsenal

An analysis of Severino’s pitch breakdown reveals his four-seam fastball being used 52.5% of the time, his change-up at 20.2%, his slider at 17%, and his cutter at 10.2%. His fastball has yielded a .347 batting average against, allowing 43 hits across 124 at-bats. His change-up and slider produce batting averages of .261 and .279, respectively. This decline, compared to his slider’s .169 average and equally efficient fastball in 2022, marks a drastic regression.

In fact, his four-seam fastball has lost 1.2 inches of vertical movement this season, while his slider has diminished by 1.4 inches vertically and 0.4 inches horizontally. This is clear evidence of Severino’s struggle; his pitches aren’t meeting their full potential.

Whether it’s a matter of confidence or physical limitations, it’s hard to justify any further investment in Severino, especially considering his history of injuries and a lackluster 2023 season. The team now faces the dilemma of trading him, designating him for assignment (DFA), or moving him to the bullpen.

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