ORLANDO, Fla. — A year ago at this time Luis Severino was considered one of many question marks surrounding the 2017 Yankees rotation.
A year later it was announced the 23-year-old had placed third in voting for the American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday after going 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA in his first full season in the big leagues.
Severino, who ranked third in the AL in ERA and fourth in strikeouts (230), finished behind Cleveland’s Corey Kluber, who got 28 of 30 first-place votes in capturing his second Cy Young, and Boston’s Chris Sale. Blue Jays righthander Marcus Stroman of Medford received two fifth-place votes and finished eighth.
Max Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award for the second straight year — he received 27 of 30 first-place votes. Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg finished second and third, respectively. Mets righthander Jacob deGrom received two fifth-place votes and finished eighth.
“He’s always been an exciting talent,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said of Severino before leaving the GM meetings on Wednesday. “Somebody that’s performed at every level throughout. So we had high hopes for him. Obviously, ’17 was the year that was his coming out party at the major league level. Not surprised because we saw what he was capable of.”
The Yankees saw that in late 2015 when Severino, featuring a high-90’s fastball and biting slider, had an electric debut, going 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts.
But 2016 was a significant step backward — Severino lost command of his fastball and stopped throwing his changeup and, hence, lost his rotation spot by mid-May of the season — the reason so many questions swirled around him entering this season.
Severino did not have a guaranteed rotation spot going into the spring but won one of the two open spots — rookie lefty Jordan Montgomery took the other — and never looked back. After allowing three or more runs in three of his first five starts, Severino got on a roll, posting a 1.90 ERA over his next seven starts, en route to an All-Star Game bid.
In his first five starts after the All-Star break, Severino went 4-0 with a 0.83 ERA. After a hiccup Aug. 12 against Boston when he allowed 10 runs (eight earned), Severino went 5-1 with a 1.99 ERA in his final eight starts of the regular season.
“The biggest surprise is really what happened in ‘16 and figuring out why he lost the command of his fastball and the use of his changeup and the slider became erratic,” Cashman said. “That is really the more surprise than what we saw from him this past year. He’s got all the equipment and the ability and the mental fortitude. Proud of what he did. Excited for him and for us.”
AL Cy Young Voting
Total points on a 7-4-3-2-1 basis:
Player 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Total
Corey Kluber, Indians 28 2 — — — 204
Chris Sale, Red Sox 2 28 — — — 126
Luis Severino, Yankees — — 20 6 1 73
Carlos Carrasco, Indians — — 1 16 8 43
Justin Verlander, Tigers/Astros — — 3 6 11 32
Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox — — 6 2 5 27
Ervin Santana, Twins — — — — 3 3
Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays — — — — 2 2