I’m Worried about Luis Severino, And Here Is Why:
After having successful Tommy John Surgery in February 2020, Luis Severino threw off the mound for the first time last week, which was met with high praise from New York Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey and others around the industry. Even so, I’m skeptical surrounding his return this season.
The High Praise from Mike Harkey:
Maybe it’s just me, but I read into the words that New York Yankees coaches are saying about the players at Spring Training. That’s why I was surprised to hear bullpen coach Mike Harkey say the following about Luis Severino:
“I’ve seen a lot of first-time bullpens after Tommy John and watching Sevy’s is probably the most comfortable I’ve ever seen a player throwing his bullpen, and probably the most aggressive I’ve seen a player. I mean, it looked like he had zero apprehension, or zero worry about whether his surgically repaired elbow was sound. That for me was probably the biggest thing. He’s still probably looking at 20-30 more bullpens and a lot more live batting practices and then a game, so he’s still a long way away, but very encouraging.” “He’s worked his tail off to get to this point. Having been through a series of serious injuries and rehabbing for months in a year, it takes a toll on your mind and definitely takes a toll on your body, but it also gives you a chance that if you dig into it, you can do things now to your body that you weren’t able to do when you were healthy because you have that extra time and I think when he does come back, I think he’s going to be much stronger.”
Just look at those words. “…probably the most aggressive I’ve seen a player.” “He’s doing things to his body he wasn’t able to do before.”
Are those good things?
Tommy John Surgery Timeline:
After getting Tommy John Surgery, the typical pitcher will have anywhere from a 10 to an 18 month recovery window before returning to professional baseball. During this recovery, players will go through a multiple-month 4 stage “recovery” period.
Phase One (Weeks 0-3 After Surgery): Doctors put the pitcher on a hinged elbow brace and focus on preventing stiffness of the elbow as well as promoting its healing around the graft.
Phase Two (Weeks 4-8 After Surgery): After (hopefully) preventing stiffness, the second phase focuses on gaining strength around the reconstructed elbow and slowing getting the player back to a full range of motion (ROM).
Phase Three (Weeks 9-13): With (hopefully) most of the ROM recovered and strength training going on, phase three works to provide the flexibility and neuromuscular control that is lost. In short, it’s more rehab.
Phase Four (Weeks 14-26): Continued rehab and the development of a throwing program depending on how a players body is handling everything. These programs tend to start slow, but by about months 7-9 the player should be starting to get to near what’s called “full competition” throwing.
So, Why Am I Worried About Severino?
If we were to look at Luis Severino and his timeline during his TJS recovery, given he had his surgery 13 months ago, we should be expecting him to be in that “full competition” throwing area. However, this past week was just the first time he threw off of a mound.
While I can expect that Severino likely had a lengthened recovery time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which likely limited his ability to Yankees facilities. Combine that with Severino having suffered a pretty serious right shoulder rotator cuff injury that kept him out for most of 2019 (12 innings over 3 starts in September, 8.1 innings in the postseason).
Thinking of all of this, it is a lot that Severino is trying to come back from physically. It’s also a lot to put on his plate mentally. He knows that fans and the organization expect him to be great coming back this year.
This is why doesn’t add up in my head why a pitcher should be “aggressive” during his first stint back on the mound. Yes, the Yankees need help in the rotation and if Severino could recapture his value as a potential #2 in the rotation that would be great. The problem is that I don’t think being aggressive will help get a player there. I think being aggressive only means that he’s going to get here faster, but at much bigger risk for future loss again.
I’m super happy to hear about the lack of a mental barrier in his game. That is great.
I’d just rather the Yankees make sure Severino is truly physically healthy before they allow him (or tell him) to push. Remember: the Yankees have not had a great injury history recently…
Article By: Ethan Semendinger
Date Published: March 15th, 2021