Even the most optimistic Yankees fan would have predicted some rocky starts for 2015 rookie phenom Luis Severino. It’s only natural for some regression from the 2.89 ERA and 5-3 record the 22 year old put up in the second half of last year. That being said, I don’t think even the most pessimistic of us saw this coming for "Sevy."
After Tuesday night’s debacle, in which Severino lasted just 3.0 IP while giving up 6 runs (all earned) and striking out just one batter, the Yankees youngest starting pitcher is sporting a 2016 season ERA of 6.86. He is 0-3 and, except for his last start against Oakland, he has been ineffective in each one.
Based on pure stuff, Severino should be just as dominant as he was in 2015. According to MLB Statcast, his average FB is 96.33 vs. the MLB Average of 92.58, and he’s throwing strikes, having walked just 3 across almost 20 IP. He’s also given up just two HR’s on the season.
So it doesn’t seem as though the youngster is hurt. What, then, is causing his horrible season? In a tweet, ESPN writer Wallace Matthews speculated that the league has adjusted to Severino and he has not yet been able to counter. It’s a fair point. Baseball is, after all, a game of adjustments.
I am somewhat skeptical of that explanation, however, since the four teams that Severino has faced so far (Detroit, Seattle, Oakland and Texas) are four that he didn’t face in 2015. Even allowing for players switching teams in the off-season plus scouting reports and video, it seems like Severino should still have the advantage in these situations, at least this early in the season. If that is the reason, however, if this is how he pitches against teams he’s never faced, what can the Yankees expect when he takes the mound against a more familiar opponent?
I’m more inclined to think this is a young pitcher coming off a heavier than typical workload, trying to adjust to his first major league season. Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic but I’m inclined to give him some more time to adjust.
I’m certainly dismissing any and all claims for his demotion, or for Ivan Nova to replace him in the rotation. He has too much potential and he’s too integral to the success of the team for such talk. At least after four starts.
When asked what, during his post-game conference seen on the YES Network, he would say to a struggling Severino, Joe Girardi said, “[Y]ou’ve got to fight through it and get back out there…find a way to get it done.”
It’s really that simple. To get better, Severino has to pitch and needs to do it at the major league level.