Luis Severino, who allowed five runs in 4.1 innings in his return to the rotation on Tuesday in Boston against the Red Sox, was sent back to Triple-A Scranton to work on his change-up and other pitches on Wednesday. He is only 22, but likely deserved to stay in the rotation because the Red Sox have one of the best offenses in baseball.
Severino had previously made three appearances out of the bullpen before coming back to the rotation after Ivan Nova was traded. In his three games out of the bullpen, Severino threw 8.1 innings, only allowed one hit, not allowing an earned run to go along with 10 strikeouts and three walks. Based on those stats out of the bullpen he deserved to show what he could do as a starter again, but the Yankees were not impressed with his pitch selection.
This is what Joe Girardi had to say about Severino’s performance after the game:
“When we watched last night’s start, his fastball command was not great, his slider was somewhat inconsistent – and granted, he’s facing a really difficult lineup – and he didn’t throw many changeups,” Joe Girardi said. “We really want to finish him off. I think to get through lineups a third time, which you want all your pitchers to be able to do, a kid with stuff like that, you need to have a third pitch.”
In Severino’s 10 starts with the RailRiders between May 13 and July 27, he had a very good 3.25 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, seven wins, a .223 batting average against, 57 strikeouts, and 15 walks in 63.2 innings. He allowed only two runs in three of his last five starts before being called back up to the Yankees, which included a six-inning start where he allowed two runs, five hits and struck out an impressive 11 batters in his start July 20.
When he goes back to the RailRiders he will need to work on his fastball command and make his slider much more consistent. He will also need to get more confident in throwing his changeup as he only threw two or three. If he can improve his change and have more confidence in it that will allow him to have a third pitch he can rely on.
Severino did say after the game that he used to have more confidence in his change.
“I’m not throwing it a lot because I don’t have the same confidence I had two years ago,” Severino said. “I have to figure it out and come back. It’s difficult to be a starter with two pitches, so I have to work.”
He will likely be brought back up to the Yankees once rosters expand on September 1, and will look to be able to have the dominance as a starter that he had in the last two months of last season. He proved that he can have a lot of success against major league hitters in his 11 starts last season, but he will now need to prove he can again as the rest of the league now has more of a scouting report on him.
From the beginning of August until the beginning of October (11 starts), Severino had an excellent 2.89 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 22 walks and 56 strikeouts in 62.1 innings. He allowed two runs or less in eight of his 11 starts. He also struck out five batters or more in seven of his 11 starts.
His main weakness was that he walked six batters or more in six of his starts. He was able to prevent those walks from doing too much damage as he allowed less than three runs in three of those starts, but walks usually have a way of hurting a pitcher. Severino had much better control when he pitched for the RailRiders earlier this season as he allowed one or zero walks in five of his last six starts.
It seems like it would have made more sense to have Severino work through his pitch selection and improve his secondary pitches with the Yankees he is one of the young players that the Yankees want to evaluate. Sending Severino back down to Triple-A would have made more sense if the Yankees were facing the Tampa Bay Rays, who have scored the second fewest runs in the AL (454), but the Red Sox lead the league in runs scored with 603.
Another reason that this move doesn’t make sense is that Chad Green or whoever replaces Severino is not the pitcher that Severino is. However, if he is able to feel more comfortable relying on his change, improve his fastball command and make his slider more consistent in the next 2.5 weeks, then it would have been a very productive time spent in Triple-A.
Based on how Severino performs the rest of the season the Yankees will know what they have in him and if he makes more sense in the future as a relief pitcher or starter. Even though he has allowed more than three runs in five of his eight starts this season, he still has his 11 starts from last season, and can prove in September that he can be a productive starting pitcher going forward if he can make some adjustments.