Yankees righthander Luis Severino looks healthy in exhibition debut
TAMPA, Fla. — Ignore the lack of command, the base hits, the homer and the runs he allowed.
The most significant part of Luis Severino’s spring training outing Sunday afternoon – the righthander’s first time on the mound at this time of year since 2018 – was this:
He looked healthy, threw healthy and, by all accounts, came out of the two-inning start against the Tigers physically fine.
That's no small thing, given that since signing a four-year, $40 million extension in February 2019, Severino has appeared in exactly seven big-league games.
He allowed four runs and four hits in an 8-7 loss to the Tigers at Steinbrenner Field but saw his fastball velocity peak at an impressive 98 mph.
“Easy gas, plus stuff,” one National League talent evaluator said, noting that Severino’s fastball sat in the range of 95 to 97 mph. “Minus command, which you’d kind of expect, and caught too much of the plate. Fastball was a bit flat, but he looks good [physically]. Threw a good changeup. He will be fine.”
Early indications are that the Yankees could have a solid No. 2 starter behind ace Gerrit Cole.
“If I’m healthy, I know the kind of pitcher that I am and I know what I can bring to the team,” said Severino, 28, who went 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 32 starts in 2018, his last fully healthy season.
The last time Severino warmed up in the home bullpen here, on March 5, 2019, it was before a game against Atlanta. But after warming up, he felt discomfort in his shoulder, which he reported to the training staff. He was shelved with right rotator cuff inflammation and, after a series of setbacks during his rehab, did not appear in a game until September, starting three games in the season’s final month.
The shoulder never felt completely right that offseason, and after a series of stops and starts the following spring training, Severino had Tommy John surgery in February 2020. He finally made it back to the mound, in a bullpen role, toward the end of 2021.
“I think what was nice for Sevy was getting out there last year,” Aaron Boone said. “Not only getting back after the [Tommy John] but the little setbacks, minor things, that held him up. For him to come back to pitch, and really well, down the stretch was something good for him to build some momentum going into the offseason . . . It’s good to see him where he’s at physically, and clearly that he was productive over the three months we weren’t able to have him [during the lockout].''
Severino said that while warming up Sunday, he flashed back to that March afternoon three years ago when his physical issues began.
“When I finished my bullpen [Sunday], I felt relieved after that,” said Severino, adding that he felt “more nervous” than before his big-league debut in 2015. “Just being here, throwing, whatever the result was, I was happy.”
How much happiness will follow, for him and the Yankees, remains an open question. If the Yankees get the version of Severino they got in 2017, when he went 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA in 31 starts, or 2018, they will have a 1-2 rotation punch to rival any in the American League.
Severino laughed when asked if it could rival what is across town in Queens with Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer.
“Scherzer-DeGrom, I don’t know,” he said to laughter. “But Cole is a great pitcher and, like I said, if I’m healthy, I know the kind of pitcher that I am and I’ll be excited to go behind him and match his games.”