Analysis

Luis Severino may be the Yankees’ Biggest X-Factor

After two injury-plagued seasons, Luis Severino looks to make his return to the hill in 2021, making him the Yankees’ biggest X-factor.

Spring Training is beginning to wrap up, and the New York Yankees are beginning to ramp up for the start of the season. A few weeks ago, we talked about some of the biggest potential X-factors for this Yankee ballclub. There’s one big name that was left off that list, so what better time than to highlight him here? Following a pair of dominant years in 2017 and 2018, this player has been held out of action due to injury reasons for the large portion of the past two seasons. He’s the potential Yankee co-ace, Luis Severino.

Luis Severino: Starter 1B?

Luis Severino came up in 2015 and looked strong in his abbreviated rookie campaign. He fell off a bit in 2016, but looked dominant out of the bullpen, making people think he’d be a potential late-inning reliever going forward. I mean, you can’t say enough about how much of a difference you see compared to Severino coming out of the ‘pen and starting in 2016. That season, Severino started 11 games, pitching 47.2 innings. He had an ERA of 8.50, allowing 70 hits, 11 home runs, and striking out 41. As a reliever, on the other hand, the numbers tell a different story. In 23.1 innings out of the bullpen, Severino’s ERA was a nearly-spotless 0.39. He allowed just eight hits and struck out 25.

Severino bounced back in a big way the following two seasons. To sum it up, Severino finished 3rd in AL Cy Young Voting in 2017, where he pitched 193.1 innings to the tune of a 2.98 ERA. He allowed just 150 hits and struck out a whopping 230 batters.

Although Severino’s 2018 season wasn’t quite as dominant as the year’s prior, he was still very solid. His ERA sat at 3.38 in 191.1 innings. He allowed 173 hits and sat down 220 by way of the “K.” Needless to say, the then Yankees’ ace put together a pair of insanely dominant seasons.

Injury Issues

Since 2018, Severino’s time on the field has been limited, as he’s pitched just 12 innings, not including the postseason, since 2019. What held Severino out of action in 2019 was rotator cuff inflammation and a lat strain. He did return late in the season, however. In 2020, Severino went under the knife for Tommy John Surgery early in Spring Training, ruling him out for the entirety of last Summer’s campaign. He has yet to pitch on a major league mound since October of 2019.

Return on the Horizon?

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when Severino will be back in action, but assuming he doesn’t have any setbacks, it should definitely be at some point this season. As Severino rehabs, late June through July looks like the likeliest timetable. Whether or not that is accelerated or even pushed back at all remains to be seen.

Point is, we all know Severino can hurl the ball with the best of them, and he’d be a welcome addition behind Gerrit Cole to the Yankees’ rotation upon his concern. However, there is reason for caution given his inability to stay healthy, as well as whether or not he’ll be able to ramp up to where we know he can be following his return to the mound. This makes him the biggest Yankees X-factor.

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