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Yankees could see an influx of arms for the bullpen in the final two weeks

Luis Severino #40 of the New York Yankees

Luis Severino #40 of the New York Yankees throws from the mound before a game against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium on Friday, Sep. 17, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

One thing or another is going to happen for the Yankees during the last two weeks of the regular season:

They’re going to add some really talented arms to their beleaguered bullpen.

Or they’re not.

In terms of making a late-season return, Luis Severino and Jonathan Loaisiga took significant steps forward on Friday at Yankee Stadium. Severino threw two "innings" of live batting practice and Loaisiga played catch for the first time since going on the injured list Sept. 5 with a right rotator cuff strain.

Also, Domingo German is scheduled to throw a minor-league rehab game on Saturday.

Manager Aaron Boone hopes to add all three into the bullpen mix before the Yankees’ regular-season finale on Oct. 3.

And who knows? If the Yankees earn a wild-card spot and win the wild-card game, those three could be on call deep into October.

That’s the optimistic view, anyway.

Severino, who has had issues with a groin strain and shoulder tightness in his attempt to come back from Tommy John surgery, threw live batting practice against Rougned Odor and Tyler Wade. Except for one second-deck home run Odor smashed to right, Severino was hard to hit.

"I thought it was really good," Boone said. "I thought the intensity was good, the stuff was good. I know the first hitter we checked on, I think he was 96 [mph], and it looked like that. And then even the feedback from Wader and Roogie was the life [was] there. I thought his secondary [pitches] looked sharp. I thought he was actually really sharp. To have two ups there and get his volume up a little bit, too, was good. So see how he comes out of this, but it looks like he's pretty encouraged about it, too."

The Yankees had hoped on a midseason return for Severino before he suffered his two subsequent injuries.

"I’ve felt this way a lot with Sevy as he's been returning," Boone said. "Unfortunately, he’s had the different setbacks that have popped up, but I feel like his energy and intensity have been good and there's a confidence that he has, especially in his arm right now."

Severino’s next step could be a minor-league rehab assignment and then a spot in the Yankees’ bullpen. He has pitched in relief 11 times in his career, all in 2016.

"Obviously, we're not going to get him built up to start or anything like that," Boone said. "We'll see what the next step is, if we get him in a game in a couple days. But, yeah, I could envision him being with us pretty soon if everything goes well."

German, who has been out since July 31 with shoulder inflammation, is more accustomed to pitching in relief, having done it 20 times, including three outings in 2021. If his rehab start on Saturday goes well, he could be back with the Yankees early next week.

"He's worked out of the pen like this before, even this year," Boone said. "I'm not too worried about how he'll handle that. Even with Sevy, going back to different points in his career, he's come out of the bullpen. It'll be important that we make sure that there's probably the proper rest with those guys, obviously, if they pitch."

Loaisiga is not as close as the other two, but it’s a good sign that he was able to start a throwing program. Jameson Taillon also hopes to return from a torn ankle tendon before the season ends.

One more setback from any of them and that probably will be it for 2021.

"If they're ready to return, and can, they'll return," Boone said. "Same goes for Loaisiga . . . If it progresses like it's supposed to and he gets back to the point where he's able to pitch for us, then that'll be. If not, then we have to live with that."

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