To Keep or Not to Keep: Luis Severino
by Ethan Semendinger
June 22, 2021
Over the next month as we begin to approach the 2021 Trade Deadline season, Ethan will be taking you through most of the Yankees MLB talent (including those on the IL) and his give opinions on what he would do if he ran the team and on what the Yankees will likely do.
Today we’ll be discussing Luis Severino.
MLB Postseason/Division/WS Odds for the New York Yankees (2021): Preseason: Fangraphs – 91.3%/71.0%/17.5% BBRef – 84.0%/63.1%/11.8% 538 – 83%/60%/14% On June 14th: Fangraphs – 44.5%/14.4%/5.7% BBRef – 19.3%/0.9%/0.8% 538 – 37%/8%/3%#Yankees #StartSpreadingtheNews — Start Spreading The News (@NYY_Report) June 14, 2021
Understanding This Series:
At the beginning of this series, the Yankees currently sit with a 33-32 record, are 4th in the AL East (8.5 GB of the Rays), and are 6th in the AL Wild Card race (4 GB of the Astros). If they want to win 93 games this season (what they’d likely need for a wild card spot) they’ll have to play .618 baseball, a winning percentage of which just 2 teams (Rays and White Sox) are currently playing at. In this series we’re not believing that the Yankees, under their current roster construction and self-inflicted restrictions, have a shot at the playoffs. Thus, we’re looking at the 2021 Trade Deadline as a place to sell and to look towards 2022 and the future for this team.
Luis Severino Background:
The Yankees of recent years have not had the greatest luck with bringing up pitchers through their farm system, but that trend looked to be changed with the emergence of Luis Severino in 2015.
Severino was an international free agent the Yankees signed at 18-years-old and he quickly made a name for himself going through the entire minor league system within 4 years of being signed to play professional baseball. And, in the minors he never had a combined yearly ERA above 2.50. He was a super promising pitcher and in half a season in 2015 he continued to show that promise with a 2.89 ERA over 11 starts and 62.1 innings. The Yankees had their next homegrown ace (and first since Andy Pettitte).
However, the story hasn’t quite played out like that. Severino had a very rough sophomore season (5.83 ERA, 22 games/11 starts and spent 14 games/13 starts in Triple-A), but he came back with a vengeance in 2017. Pitching to a 2.98 ERA over 31 starts and 193.1 innings with 230 strikeouts helped earn him the 3rd place AL Cy Young vote. Then he did very much the same in 2018 with a 3.39 ERA over 32 starts, 191.1 innings, and 220 strikeouts (and got 9th in the AL Cy Young). Though, 2019 would be a different story.
Severino would miss opening day by being on the 10-Day IL with rotator cuff inflammation (right shoulder) and a grade 2 lat strain. A month later, in April, he was moved to the 60-Day IL and he wouldn’t see his first rehab game until September, ultimately making 3 solid but short starts late in the season for the Yankees. He would also pitch in the postseason, but that would be the last of Luis Severino in the MLB we’ve seen since. Right before the 2020 season, Luis Severino went to get Tommy John surgery and has since been on the IL.
Truthfully, it wouldn’t be fair to look at Severino’s most recent statistics as it’s been essentially two full seasons since we’ve seen him work. Add in that he recently suffered a pretty serious set-back with a Grade 2 groin strain during a rehab start in Tampa which has delayed a return that was hopefully coming this month to be moved to late July or August.
What I’d Do and What the Yankees Will Do:
Under contract through 2022 (at an AAV of $10M/year) and with a $15M club option ($2.75M buy-out) for 2023, Luis Severino does have an automatic bid to stay in the MLB and on the Yankees roster for the foreseeable future. However this isn’t the only reason why Severino should be kept around.
We have to consider that it’s highly unlikely that a fellow team would be willing to take a risk on bringing in a pitcher who has only 20.1 innings pitched (regular and postseason combined) since the beginning of the 2019 season. While Severino isn’t due back before the trade deadline (especially given the groin strain) and while teams buying at the trade deadline can acquire players on the IL, it’s very rare this type of trade occurs. If it does it is also often goes for players who have been performing and have a short injured time left, that’s not Severino.
We also have to consider that the Yankees are in need of starting pitchers and not in a position to start trading them away en mass. We’ve addressed this before with why it’s not a smart move to trade most of the other starting pitchers, and the Yankees could use Severino coming back as a way to trade one of them (see who that should be, here). And, it bears understanding that Cashman will also use Severino coming back as his way of “trading for a starting pitcher” at the deadline.…much to my chagrin.
It’s not worthwhile for the Yankees to trade Severino. He isn’t going to fetch much on the open market and with a guaranteed contract it is better at this point to see what he can (or if he can) provide value to the team in 2021 and 2022. I hope for his return as he is a solid top-of-the-rotation arm and would greatly help the Yankees. Yet again, what I’d do and what the Yankees will likely do are in agreeance.