TAMPA, Fla. — The final two spots in the Yankees’ rotation are up for grabs in spring training, and despite his struggles last season, Luis Severino is confident he can earn one of them.
“I want to be a starter,” said the righthander from the Dominican Republic, who turns 23 Monday. “I came here to do my best, and I think my best is as a starter.”
Expectations were high for Severino last year, but he started 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA. That led to two stints in the minors at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, a time he acknowledged was “tough” after a promising start to his career in the majors in 2015, when he was 5-3, 2.89 in 11 starts.
Returning primarily as a reliever, he had a 1.13 ERA in 16 innings last September but said Tuesday he doesn’t think his effectiveness out of the bullpen will cost him a chance at starting.
“I have to compete with myself, to be better than last year, with more consistency,” said Severino, who worked on his mechanics in the offseason, especially his changeup. “I just want to help the team win. I just have to be more consistent.”
Severino dropped about 10 pounds to 216, and he reached out to Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, with whom he met five times in the offseason.
“We were working on mechanics, the same stuff that [pitching coach] Larry [Rothschild] told me,” said Severino, who reached out to Martinez through a mutual friend in the Dominican and admitted he was nervous at first. “Pedro was a real ly nice guy to work with me . . . I called him and he said, ‘Yes.’ ”
The Yankees have known commodities in Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia, but Severino will have to hold off other less proven options such as righthanders Chad Green, Adam Warren, Luis Cessa and Bryan Mitchell.
“You have a number of people that are going to vie for those last two spots,” manager Joe Girardi said. “The competition in spring training should be really good . . . You look at what Cessa and Green did, and Sevy’s a guy we believe in a lot. We still envision him as a starter, but he did some really good things when he came out of the pen for us. I’m optimistic because I think there’s a good mixture and a lot of talent in that room.”