Luis Severino: Difficult To Understand The Issue


The numbers are not pretty for Luis Severino.

-13.85 ERA in first inning

-4.14 ERA in second inning

-8.53 ERA in third inning

-4.76 ERA in fourth inning

-7.36 ERA in fifth inning

Overall ERA: 8.06 sits last among starters in the league

So, what is wrong with the Yankees 29-year old right hander? The two-time All-Star has succumbed to giving up more home runs, walks, and recording fewer strikeouts which has left him open to more questions about his role. Wednesday evening in Chicago, he didn’t help the Yankees cause coming out of the bullpen as the second arm behind Ian Hamilton in the opener role used by manager Aaron Boone. 

Severino allowed four runs in 2.0 innings. He allowed five hits and a home run as the Yankees, with a 9-2 loss to the White Sox, dropped another series and fell 5-½ games behind the third AL Wild Card. Difficult to understand what has gone wrong for Severino and the Yankees have little time to find the answers.

Severino said, “I’m having the worst year of my life in baseball. I’ve got to continue. I’m not going to stop here. I’m going to keep trying to get better.”

Said Boone: “Hopefully, get him in there at a better spot where he can take off. He’s shown flashes of it within his starts.”

Thing is, the Yankees can’t continue to be patient and hope Severino shows flashes of being a viable part of their rotation. There are few options to replace him in the rotation and not much time to get him right. Patience is not a virtue here as the Yankees next two series, in Miami with the contending Marlins and in Atlanta with the league best Braves, could determine their postseason hopes.

But take a look at the location of pitches and how the White Sox attached his pitches in the zone.

  • 96.7 fastball to inner half of the zone

  • 83.8 slider and hung on outer half of plate

  • 82.5 slider and home run ball that hung in lower half of zone

This is not the Luis Severino the Yankees expected. So what could be wrong? The manager, pitching coach, and evaluators are at a loss for words and perhaps Severino in due time will make adjustments and work his way back to becoming what he was.

Though the best evaluators are the scouts who have observed Severino. I reached out to a few as the Yankees confront difficult decisions with Severino and their rotation during this important final week’s stretch and risk of a losing season for the first time in 30 years.

Is Severino tipping his pitches? That has been a prevailing question. Is there a lingering injury or has a mentality developed of not throwing the right pitch? Or is this a result of a pitcher continuing to struggle with a pitch clock and pace of beating the clock?

Would have to see multiple games to see if he is tipping pitches but that is correctable by coaches,” said a veteran scout who has observed Severino over the years. “It has to be injury that he is not telling them about or the Yankees not wanting to admit.”

Chances are, if Severino has sustained an injury the Yankees would not risk putting him on the mound.

Looking at video from last year and this year in side-by-side-view, he does not look like he is favoring something. Maybe his lat that he hurt in spring training? It will alter his delivery. All of that could have him thinking about it and not about his pitching,” said the scout.

Is it confidence coming into play here? Other scouts I spoke to would not rule out that theory.

His confidence which is so important at this level are so important,” said another scout of a rival AL team. “His command and control are awful this year. He has not lost any velocity so it is not that.”

Regardless, the Yankees have minimal time and lack of pitching depth to try and solve the Luis Severino equation. They are slowly working Nestor Cortes back in the rotation, Domingo German is suspended for the year, Carlos Rodon is on the injured list and expected back soon. Clarke Schmidt has been consistent (3-runs per game) and Gerrit Cole is at a CY Young Award pace.

We’ve got to continue to discuss all options, as well as work alongside him and try to get him right,” Boone said. “You still see the glimpses of it in there, but we’ve got to keep exploring things.”

This obviously could lead to more openers, or is Boone is referring to an option of replacing Severino with left hander Nick Ramirez (0-2, 33.2 innings) or a more experienced right hander, Jhony Brito (4-5, 5.02 ERA) currently at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Consensus here is difficult to understand, though a combination of mental timidness tends to lead to a bad performance that results in a breakdown of confidence. I am not a pitching coach or evaluator.

Right now, though, the evaluation of Luis Severino is what he says, “I am the worst pitcher in baseball.” The Yankees need to get him right and soon.

Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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