Just two weeks ago, New York Yankees fans were convinced that they had enough of Luis Severino. Throughout all the woes of a season that has included injuries, allegations and poor performance from most of the team, a key part of the team’s pitching rotation for several seasons has been having a horrific year. It’s gotten to the point where he admitted that he felt that he was the worst pitcher in baseball.
What a steep dropoff from the player that was a key part of this team’s rotation and identity in 2022. It was hard for Yankees fans not to smile when Severino would scream in excitement after a filthy strikeout. Fast forward to Aug. 15, 2023 and it was hard for fans to even crack a smile when he’s slated to start a game.
That’s another reason why it’s been all the more peculiar that he’s started to pick it up over his last two starts. While both of those games have been against two mediocre ball clubs in the Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers, fans can’t ignore this huge bright spot in an otherwise forgettable season. Not only was Severino able to toss at least six innings in both of those starts, he was also able to be dependable while not allowing a single run and giving a flashback to the pitcher that was once cheered for on a daily basis. That’s huge for a guy that’s had his confidence drop to an all-time low in 2023.
Should those two starts help fans forget about his current 6.64 ERA or 1.66 WHIP? Absolutely not, but it should at the very least give this management more hope that it may be worth it to give Severino one more chance to prove himself in 2024 rather than cutting him loose to potentially flourish on other teams.
First, I think it’s super important to mention that it would not be an incredibly risky move, especially from a financial standpoint. Due to how poor Severino has been this season, he wouldn’t nor shouldn’t command a ton of money on a one year, prove it deal. A signing would be viewed as an opportunity to prove his spot in the rotation and if he repeats his lackluster results in 2024, the team can simply let him go.
An easy counterargument to this reasoning could be the stacked pitching class in 2023 that includes players like Shohei Ohtani, Blake Snell and even former Yankee Jordan Montgomery. All of those players and many more were better in 2023 and definitely have more upside than what Severino could bring to the table. Would it really be worth it to take a chance on a guy that hasn’t even secured five wins in the majors this season?
However, with how critical the team has been of their salary cap and taking in extra money after taking in the massive contracts of players Aaron Judge and Carlos Rodón, they most likely wouldn’t go after those potential options. It wouldn’t make as much sense to sign another arm, unless it’s a player like Ohtani who could change the team’s fortune on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Options like Cody Bellinger are also available and should naturally be the focus of the front office. Especially when the team has looked lost in a season where Judge was absent for two months with a broken toe and the rest of the starting lineup has failed to pick up the slack.
Even if the team were to somehow acquire Ohtani, which isn’t super likely due to how poor the team has looked this season, Severino should still be a top target, especially with him still being just 29 years of age.
Aside from all of these points, the most noteworthy argument for keeping Severino in 2024 has been manager Aaron Boone’s trust in the Dominican-born pitcher despite his struggles. The Yankees skipper has brought up that even when he was close to losing his spot in the rotation, Severino still had key attributes like his velocity and arm speed intact. Those traits looked even stronger in his last start with a notable moment in the bottom of the sixth inning against the Tigers where he reached 99 mph and let out a notable scream.
There’s still plenty of time for Severino to gain momentum on his case for being resigned with a little over a month to go in the season. He’ll have some quality opportunities to prove himself against even tougher teams, including some AL East opponents like the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. His confidence is also going to be at a season high, which is huge for a guy who hasn’t much to cheer for in a career-worse season.
Regardless of the opponent, he’s going to at least need to show Brian Cashman and Co. why they need to resign him and if he’s able to produce similar results as his last two starts, there’s no reason why Severino shouldn’t be in pinstripes in 2024.