Luis Severino isn’t the same guy who last debuted at Yankee Stadium here. Since September 2019, Severino has been through major surgery, multiple serious injuries, and a journey to become a better, more durable pitcher.
“And now I have two more children,” said Severino, laughing Friday morning.
After playing just 27.2 innings in the last three seasons, Severino made his first start at the stadium on 22 September 2019 on Saturday afternoon. It was a big moment for him personally to be back on the big stage after a long journey of injuries. It was also a big moment for the Yankees, who had not spent this winter pitching free agent, and Severino needed the same caliber pitcher he was before the injuries began.
In some ways, though, Severino thinks he’s a better pitcher.
“My last start was here, when I was healthy I used to come here and spend five minutes in the gym and then go out. It’s going to take me an hour to get ready right now,” Severino said. Got the balls, like one small and then one big. And my changeup is going differently than before. I got a little bit of sync movement on it.
“So I’m thinking that if I can bring all those pieces together in one day, I think I might be successful.”
It’s been a while, but Severino was a very successful pitcher before he got hurt. In 2018, he finished in the top-10 in Cy Young voting. In his first 18 starts, Wright scored a 1.98 ERA in 118.1 innings. He had a .195 batting average, scored only six home runs and averaged about 10 strikes in a game.
In an 11-start stretch at the end of that season, Severino made just 55.1 innings, scoring 4-5 runs with an ERA of 6.83 and an astonishing .323 batting average. He allowed 13 homers in that period. The following spring, he signed a four-year, $40 million extension—which runs until 2022, with a club option later this season for $15 million and a $2.75 million buyout.
Considering his shine in the first half of the 2018 season, it was a very team-friendly deal.
But just weeks after signing it, Severino was locked in with a shoulder problem that turned out to be a protracted tear that kept him out of the big leagues for five months. He pitched in the post-2019 season, feeling tightness in his forearm and requiring Tommy John surgery in March 2020. He missed the entire COVID-brief 2020 season and his return in 2021 was delayed due to a groin injury and then a shoulder stiffness.
Severino scored 7.1 from the bullpen last year, giving the Yankees confidence that he can return to an elite level.
“I think it matters,” said manager Aaron Boone. “First and foremost, it helped us that he pitched really well and played a meaningful role for us when we had to win. So I guess it was good. And maybe gave him a little more confidence, peace of mind in winter.
“Now it’s just about working and taking care of myself and preparing myself to start all over again, but I think there was a lot of value in that.”
And now the Yankees will have to see how much they can get from Severino. Having played just 27.2 innings in the last three years, he has to be careful in increasing his workload. Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake said he would be flexible about his workload this season.
“Hopefully it’s not too different from what we saw last year with (Corey) Kluber and (James Talon),” Blake said. , So I don’t know if we have any hope from him or not. …where we reach the back end, it is also difficult to make out many of them.
“I think we just continue to monitor the situation and if we have to, we’ll be realistic about relieving him when we need to work along those lines.”