The Yankees send rookie Luis Severino to the mound for his second career start tonight in Cleveland.
They’ll need a big effort from him tonight if the team wants to snap its three-game losing streak.
Severino, 21, signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2011. He made a quick rise through the Yankees’ minor league system over the past three and a half seasons, going 23-11 with a 2.30 ERA in 67 career minor league appearances. He was promoted to Triple-A Scranton from Double-A Trenton earlier this year, and he went 7-0 with a 1.91 ERA in 11 Triple-A starts. In 61 1/3 innings for Scranton, he allowed 40 hits, walked 17 and struck out 50.
He took the loss in his debut against Boston last week, allowing one run – a David Ortiz home run – over five innings. He gave up just two hits, walked none and struck out seven. Severino’s average fastball velocity was 96.35 MPH in that game, and he also threw a change-up at 88.51 MPH and a slider at 89.49 MPH.
That’s a pretty good mix of stuff for the youngster, who’s already at 104 1/3 innings this season. How far will the Yankees push him, innings-wise and with his pitch counts? I’d expect he might be able to go six innings or 100 pitches tonight, give or take, but no matter how desperate the Yankees get down the stretch run, he probably won’t be asked to do much more than that.
Severino is a hot commodity for the Yankees. He certainly looks the part of a MLB-caliber starting pitcher and he’s still just 21 years old. It will be years before he reaches arbitration and free agency, so the team won’t sacrifice any of that potential for short term gains.
One wonders exactly how Severino fits into the Yankees rotation plans for the future.
Masahiro Tanaka, if healthy, isn’t going anywhere. Same for Michael Pineda, who won’t reach free agency until after the 2017 season. Nathan Eovaldi, who has had his struggles but has still gone 11-2, is also signed through the end of 2017. Ivan Nova, recently returned from Tommy John surgery, is under contract through the end of next year.
The problem here is CC Sabathia, who’s signed for 2016 and has a vesting option for 2017 provided he doesn’t suffer a shoulder injury next year. He’s untradable and due $25 million over the next two seasons, he’s too expensive to simply cut loose.
Of course, the Yankees could trade away one of the Pineda-Eovaldi-Nova trio to open up a spot for Severino. There could be an injury that keeps a spot open for him as well.
For now, it looks like the Yankees have made room for their young ace in the making. Will he continue to pitch well enough to keep his job in the big leagues or will he wind up back in the minors at some point?