Friday, February 15, 2019

Meet the 2019 Yankees: Luis Severino

You’ve met the newest additions and you’ve met some of the catchers that have been put in place to catch their heat, but no team goes to the playoffs without an ace. No playoff team makes the postseason and goes far into October without a top-of-the-rotation type guy, and for the New York Yankees that guy is Luis Severino. Let’s get reacquainted with the Yankees ace (yes… ace, whether you agree with it or not), Mr. Luis Severino!

Luis Severino, 24-years old, is a right-handed starting pitcher for the New York Yankees that will likely take the ball for the club on Opening Day 2019. Severino, all 6’2” and 215 lbs. of him, possesses a 98 MPH four-seam fastball, an 88 MPH slider, an 89 MPH changeup and a 92 MPH cutter that he rarely uses. Maybe Mariano Rivera, who vows to teach the Yankees arms how to “pitch” after being inducted into the Hall of Fame this season, can help Severino throw that cutter not only more often, but more effectively as well.

Luis Severino was born on February 20, 1994 in Sabana de la Mar, Dominican Republic. It has been reported that Severino grew up as a fan of the New York Yankees, most notably of fellow Dominican-born player Robinson Cano, in the small Hato Mayor province of the DR. It was there that the Yankees found him and signed him as an international free agent on December 26, 2011. Severino signed a $225,000 signing bonus, spurning the Colorado Rockies who also offered him the same deal that the Yankees later matched. Severino worked his way through the Yankees system and up the ladder in the Yankees organization, earning a trip to the 2014 All-Star Futures Game. It was the 2015 season that the Yankees finally had seen enough of Severino in their minor league system and called the flame throwing right-hander up to the Major Leagues after an injury to Michael Pineda made the Yankees short a starter.

Severino’s MLB debut came against the Boston Red Sox on August 5, 2015 at just 21-years of age. Severino started 11 games for the Yankees in 2015, posting a 5-3 record with a 2.89 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 62.1 innings pitched. Severino looked to build on that success the next season, but a trip to the disabled list for right triceps inflammation, along with struggles finding the strike zone, forced Severino into the Yankees bullpen for much of the season. Severino’s stat line was ugly overall for the 2016 season, but his 3-0 record and 0.39 ERA and 0.77 WHIP as a reliever gave the Yankees some hope, and Severino some confidence, going forward towards the 2017 season.

Severino won the Yankees 4th starter job out of spring training in 2017 and led the team to the postseason as the American League Wild Card winner. Severino was given the ball to start against the Minnesota Twins, but the Yankees young right-hander struggled early as nerves got the best of him on the big stage. Severino gave up three earned runs in the first inning against the Twins and left just one-third of an inning. Severino looked better overall in the postseason, helping the Yankees to a Game 7 of the ALCS before ultimately losing to the Houston Astros, but was never able to find that dominance that he saw during the regular season. Severino finished the 2017 season with a 14-6 record, a 2.98 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 230 strikeouts, which was good for a third-place finish in the American League Cy Young Award vote.

Severino was named the Yankees Opening Day starter in 2018 and he came out blazing in the first half. Severino was named to his second consecutive All-Star Game in 2018 after finishing the first half with a 14-2 record and a 2.31 ERA in 20 starts with 144 strikeouts, but the second half was not as kind to Luis as the first. Severino struggled for much of the second half and finished the season with a 19-8 record and a 3.39 ERA overall. Severino once again started the Wild Card game for the Yankees, but this time he pitched much better in a Yankees victory over the Oakland Athletics.

Severino will look to not only build on a 19-win season in 2018, but also look to pitch better in the postseason here in 2019. The Yankees will be there, but they won’t go very far without their workhorse at the top of the rotation. No pressure, Luis, but everything rests on your right shoulder and arm. Let’s do this.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)