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  • Cory Claus

Yankees need to send Luis Severino to the bullpen

The Yankees Luis Severino is one of the most talented pitchers in New York. But his inconsistent play and bloated ERA are too much for a troubled team to handle. It’s time for the Yankees to realize that before the season slips away.



Baseballs cascading over Yankees season

The second half is upon us, and the Yankees are desperately clinging to their playoff dreams. If they’re going to have any chance of making it to the postseason, they have to make the most out of every game.


That means that tryouts are over.


This is the point in the season when you’ve either proven yourself good enough or you’ve got to go. Moral victories and participation awards are off the table.


Several players have stepped up their games as of late, perhaps in recognition that if they don’t find a way to improve, they’ll crash the season. That includes Giancarlo Stanton (four home runs in four games), DJ Lemahieu (consecutive multi-hit games), and even the low baseball IQ’ed Gleyber Torres, who’s been hitting more and playing harder.


But not so Luis Severino.


His season so far has been a complete disaster for the Yankees. His ERA is 7.38, while his WHIP is 1.80. That makes him worse than any of the Orioles’ starters, and you can’t catch a team by playing worse than them.


And unlike Clarke Schmidt, whose early-season struggles mask his vast improvement as the season has gone along, Sevvy has gotten worse. Much, much worse. Not only is he coming off of back-to-back games in which he gave up seven runs, he's had three of those seven-run starts in the last month, the last one to the Orioles.


Once again, you cannot catch a team by playing worse than them.


Once is a Mistake, Twice is a Pattern


It would be one thing if those horrible outings were outliers. We’ve seen pitchers run hot and cold before.


But Sevvy’s just been cold.


He’s had one quality start since June began. He started that month by giving up 7 to the Dodgers in four innings, then four to the White Sox in five, five to the Mets in 4.2, three to the Red Sox (the Red Sox!) in five, zero over six against the Rangers (yay!), and then the last two seven-run outings to the Cards and O’s.


That all adds up to the Yankees sending Severino to the bullpen.


So why are the Yankees giving Severino another chance against the Angels tonight?


One reason is that the Yanks still have a vision of Severino starring in the postseason. But it’s not as if Sevvy has been dominating in October. When the Bombers lost to the Red Sux in the Wild Card game in 2021, his ERA was 6.75.


Last year, against Cleveland in the divisional round, he threw to a 4.76. Then he got worse. His 5.06 in the ALCS was one of the big reasons they lost to Houston.


He might have been more unpopular than Jose Altuve at that moment.


And that’s to say nothing about how Yankees fans will feel if Sevvy’s poor pitching allows those same Astros to make the playoffs this year while the Yanks are left on the outside looking in. Even typing that pisses me off. But the Yankees keep looking at Severino based on his potential rather than his performance.


They’re like the delusional folks over at SNY looking at the Mets season so far. They keep thinking one good game will turn things around.


It won’t. Not for the Mets and not for Severino.


The Yankees are Limited


Another reason the Yankees are sticking with Sevvy is that Clarke Schmidt is running into an innings limit. He threw 38 innings total in 2021 between the majors and the minors, then followed that up last year with 90 between Scranton and the Bronx.


Schmidty is already up to 94 this year.


So, while it’s a toss-up of who’s better between him and Domingo German, the Yankees will need both of them to be ready to pitch in September and October.


That means they’ll need to limit Schmidt’s innings at some point. It also negates the return of Nestor Cortes, which might have meant sending Sevvy to the bullpen. Instead, he’ll likely need to remain a starter to cover Clarke.


The Yankees could, of course, go with Jhony Brito (ERA 4.70; WHIP 1.34) or Randy Vasquez (1.17; 1.04). But they’re (reasonably) afraid that this has been a Cinderella story–especially for the 12th-ranked prospect Vasquez–and they don’t want the bubble to burst all over their playoff dreams.


This means that for right now, at least, they’re going to favor experience over youth, potential over performance.


That could prove disastrous.


If, for instance, Sevvy pitches well against the Angels, he will earn another start. With days off, he might not pitch again until the Yankees enter a crucial ten-game set against the Orioles, Rays, and Astros. And if he puts up another seven-run stinker against one or more of those teams, it might be the difference between the playoffs and a cascade of boos on the final day of the season.


Nobody wants that. At least owner Hal Steinbrenner would finally understand why Yankees fans are unhappy, but that’s little consolation.


Yankees Severino belongs to the Bullpen


On the other hand, if Severino stinks against the Angels, the Yankees will need to execute Plan B immediately. That could mean recalling Vasquez or Brito. Or it could mean trading for a better starter.


That wouldn’t be hard.


Michael Kopech, for instance, is having a mediocre year for the White Sox at best. He’s 3-8 with a 4.47 ERA and a WHIP of 1.41. Kopech is also in the last year before he’s arbitration eligible, so he would only cost the Yankees about a million dollars for the rest of the season.


That last bit's important for the cost-conscious Yankees. It's pitchers they have and hitters they need, so they'll look to put their money towards improving the line-up.


Besides, Kopech would be a massive upgrade. Think about that: a guy with a 4.47 ERA would be a massive upgrade over Luis Severino. But that’s the baseball reality we live in now.


And now is when Severino needs to be moved out of the starting rotation and into the bullpen. The Yankees need to embrace that idea and soon. Whether it’s Brito or Vasquez, Kopech or another trade target, the Yanks can ill afford to wait to make a change.


Otherwise, they might not like the baseball reality they wake up to come October.


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