After undergoing Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2020 and encountering several setbacks on the way, New York Yankees pitcher Luis Severino finally made his 2021 debut on Tuesday against the Texas Rangers.
The outing was a success: he was on the mound for two innings and made 30 pitches.
He did not allow any runs and struck out two hitters.
His fastball velocity was a bit lacking compared to previous years, but there is no reason to panic yet as it was his first outing in two years.
His slider and changeup, on the other hand, looked particularly nasty.
Luis Severino, Wicked 83mph Slider…and Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/ZYfXqqaHsh
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 22, 2021
A Long Road Back
On his way back from the elbow procedure, Severino suffered a groin strain and shoulder tightness at different points in the summer, delaying his return.
He had also missed most of the 2019 campaign with various ailments, too, so Tuesday’s appearance has special meaning for him.
Now that he proved at several instances that his elbow, shoulder, and groin are fully healthy, Yankees manager Aaron Boone can count on Severino for the stretch run.
The Yankees need all the help they can get, as they are currently pushing for a spot in the playoffs.
They are half-a-game behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the second spot of the Wild Card.
The first two are out for the season, but Loaisiga is expected to return before the end of the campaign as he nurses a shoulder strain.
Domingo German will also return, but he is expected back this week, in the upcoming days.
Corey Kluber recently returned from a long stay on the injured list with a severe shoulder injury, and while he pitched well in his last start, his status should be monitored.
There may be an opening for Severino in the rotation.
A Multi-Inning Relief Role
The Yankees, however, appear married to the idea of putting him in the bullpen as a multi-inning reliever.
Before his MLB return on Tuesday, while talking to MLB.com, Boone described the role he envisioned for Severino going forward:
“His last live outing was two [innings] and 35 [pitches], so we view him from anything from an inning in some situations to possibly two- or three-inning scenarios that I think he’ll be able to handle,” Boone said.
There you have it: Severino will be a reliever going forward, but he won’t be your traditional, one-inning-and-done bullpen arm.
Boone and the Yankees want to take advantage of his superior stuff and have him pitch two or three innings as needed.
Severino in that role could be quite a weapon, as the Yankees enter a rough stretch of series that include Toronto, Boston, and Tampa Bay to finish out the regular season.
The Yankee bullpen all the sudden has/will have the multi-inning threats of Luis Severino, Domingo Germán, and Michael King. Then Loaisiga returns hopefully next week. Pretty nice
— Dan Rourke (@DanAlanRourke) September 22, 2021
The hard-throwing right-hander will be there to contribute after two long years.
He has a career 3.45 ERA in 532 innings, so he certainly has the goods.