BOSTON — A rival talent evaluator who watched Luis Severino’s rehab start Friday night for Double-A Trenton said the righthander’s stuff was good enough to get big-league hitters out.
The Yankees agree, but with Trenton still alive in the playoffs and no benefit to rushing Severino back, he will get one more start in the minors before being returned to the majors.
“Just having the controlled environment where we could build him up a little bit more,” Aaron Boone said before Sunday night’s game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. “You could get yourself in a situation where we could have brought him back and then you have some kind of fluky long first inning or something like that to where you’re in a situation where you want to pull him. This way he can kind of build up in that [controlled] atmosphere and then we’ll go from there. But I certainly like where he’s at.”
Boone said Severino’s pitch count for Wednesday’s start with Trenton will be in the “60-plus” range.
Severino, out since the start of the season with right rotator cuff inflammation and a lat strain suffered during his rehab, threw 50 pitches in three innings-plus Friday, allowing one run and five hits. With a fastball that scouts had sitting from 94 to 97 mph, he struck out five and did not walk a batter.
It was a more encouraging performance than Severino’s first rehab start, with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sept. 1, when he allowed two runs and three hits in an inning-plus. Boone said Severino looked “a little rusty” in that start.
“Watching his whole outing [Friday], I thought he shaped a lot of really good pitches,” Boone said. “I thought the life on the fastball, the command of that pitch for the most part was really good. I thought he shaped a lot of good sliders, he mixed in a lot of changeups. I thought it was good overall to where he was mixing all of his pitches and with all of his pitches, I felt he flashed some polish to them. So I thought it was another really good step forward for him on his way back.”
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild also liked what he saw on tape Friday.
“I thought he threw the ball well,” he said before Sunday night’s game. “The stamina can still get better and the arm strength should get better and more consistent, but I thought the breaking ball was good, had good depth to it. And I thought delivery-wise he was better than last time. He gave up three hits on changeups. I think he wanted to throw it and he did, which is fine. He wanted to get it refined, which is a good thing.”
After his Wednesday start, if there are no setbacks, Severino will be in line to make his 2019 big-league debut at some point during the Yankees’ home series Sept. 17-19 against the Angels.
He should be able to make two starts before the end of the regular season, and the Yankees believe that will be enough work to get him ready for October. Exactly where he will fit in their postseason plans, of course, is the question, one Boone said hasn’t yet been addressed.
“Obviously, the hope would be to win the division and you obviously have the days off,” Boone said, meaning the days from the end of the regular season before the start of the ALDS. “You start really shaping out what you potentially would have moving forward in an October scenario that final week [of the regular season]. We may explore some different roles here and there with guys, but as far as mapping it out, not necessarily anytime soon.”