I know I say this every single season but just so you know this season will be no different. I love spring training and the whole atmosphere around Major League Baseball during this time. Every team is in first place, every team has a new and exciting direction they are going in and the sky is the limit for every player and team going forward. With that theme in mind I want to make a bit of a bold prediction regarding the New York Yankees and their starting rotation, specifically the fact that the aforementioned starting rotation for the Bronx Bombers will have Luis Severino pitching in it when the team breaks spring training camp this season.
Severino survived in the minor leagues with a reasonably straight fastball and even flourished with it in a small sample size in 2015 but the young right-hander’s 2016 season left much to be desired. New York sent Severino down to the minor leagues to work on his secondary pitches at one point last season before bringing him back as a bullpen arm during the latter parts of the season where he took off and regained confidence on the mound. Severino has been working on his changeup specifically this offseason and will look to showcase that work not only this spring but in the Yankees rotation this coming season, and I believe that he will.
I especially believe this will be the case after watching him pitch, albeit in an exhibition game, on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays. Severino’s fastball and slider were on point, his fastball hit 98 MPH at one point in the game which is insane for February baseball, but it was his changeup that kept Toronto hitters at bay in two scoreless innings. Severino’s changeup was clocked at 88 MPH which is a huge dip in velocity and a huge spike in deceptiveness if he can throw it right, and he did on Sunday.
Let’s be real, the competition for the Yankees 4th and 5th rotation spots are wide open at this point with no one really slotted into those positions at this time. Severino, or anyone else really, could essentially win those spots with a strong spring. What Severino has over some of the Luis Cessa’s and Bryan Mitchell’s of the world is velocity and a confidence that borderlines on almost cockiness. In a league where you can be your own worst enemy that may be more important than any stat or telling sign can tell you. That confidence, that blazing fastball and that mastered third pitch will be the reason Severino is throwing every five days in the Yankees starting rotation come Opening Day 2017. Bet.