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Luis Severino’s First Outing of the Spring

Luis Severino’s First Outing of the Spring

By Patrick Gunn

March 22, 2022

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Luis Severino pitched in his first Spring Training game since 2018. It’s been a long time coming for the right-hander, and the results were not exactly eye-popping. He allowed four runs in two innings to the Tigers, capped by a two-run home run to Robbi Grossman in the second inning.

Spring Training results are very much unreliable. We all remember the comments people made about Shohei Ohtani’s first spring. He ended up turning out okay. The fact that Severino pitched two innings and left the start healthy is far more important than any singular pitch made during the outing. Preseason numbers are unreliable, but Severino’s outing still had a lot of positive signs and room for growth over the next month.

The most positive sign from Sevy’s outing came from his velocity. He averaged 97.5 miles per hour with the pitch, and his lowest offering came in at 95.8, per Baseball Savant. His average fastball velocity last year coming out of the bullpen was 95.4 mph. Yes, that came in a short sample size, but still, that alone suggests that Severino is in a good pitching state. He’s now 28 years old after missing nearly three full seasons with injuries and still, Severino maintained his velocity.

Also, he generated five whiffs on 18 swings, good for 28 percent. Keep in mind, Severino averaged 28.1 and 26.8 percent in his two strongest seasons in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Yes, he only notched one strikeout and it came looking, but Severino still found ways to get Tigers hitters to look uncomfortable.

Severino does need to mix up his pitches as the spring goes on. Over half of his pitches – 22 of 38 – were four-seam fastballs. Even with that, three of his five whiffs came on his changeup (which he through six times) and his cutter (five times). So, he kept hitters somewhat off-balance when he used them.

The pitch to watch out for is his cutter. The Grossman home run came on a first-pitch cutter that sat down and into the lefty and he sent it 395 feet to left-center. It’s notable because Severino never used a cutter very often. He used his cutter less than five percent of the time in both 2015 and 2016 and then never went to the pitch in 2017 and 2018. I’d be curious to see if he’s going to use the pitch more consistently with his changeup and slider.

Severino missed several times with his location on other pitches. He started the game throwing four straight fastballs up and outside to Grossman for a walk. Afterward, he pounded the zone, although he missed location with a changeup on Javier Báez and on a fastball out over the plate to Spencer Torkelson.

To be fair, the Tigers came in ready to hit. Báez, Torkelson, and Grossman all took very professional at-bats for this early in the season. Also, Grossman homered prior to this spring game, so he clearly has come out of the gate clicking. Yes, Severino located poorly, but the Tigers hitters also had good at-bats.

Severino may not have looked sharp, but it’s better to show some rust in Spring Training than in the regular season. And the righty gave the Yankees more reasons to be excited that concerned after a strong Spring debut.

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