At about the same time as Jimmy Rollins’ third-inning home run landed in the second deck in rightfield at Yankee Stadium on Friday night, the Yankees’ traveling secretary could have placed a call to a motel near Scranton, Pennsylvania, home of the team’s Triple-A franchise.
Luis Severino, your room is ready.
But the calculus for Severino’s next stop changed when the 22-year-old reached for his right elbow area as manager Joe Girardi was walking out to the mound to make a pitching change. Severino departed with trainer Steve Donohue after allowing seven runs in 2 2⁄3 innings in a 7-1 loss to the White Sox.
Luis Severino, your MRI machine is ready.
The Yankees announced Severino felt “soreness on the back of his right elbow” on his final pitch and said he would be going for an MRI. That test showed what the Yankees later called “a mild right triceps strain.”
That’s much better than an elbow injury that leads to the dreaded Tommy John surgery. Severino, who was immediately placed on the 15-day DL, will not throw for 5-7 days.
Other than a career-altering injury, the first six weeks of Severino’s season could not have gone worse. Believed to be a future ace after his stirring debut in 2015, Severino fell to 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA.
“Sevie” is a great nickname. “Seven” is not a great ERA.
Last year, Severino went 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts in the heat of a wild-card race before his 22nd birthday. He showed stuff and he showed poise.
This year, Severino has featured the same 97-mph fastball, but his breaking stuff has been below average and he has looked rattled more than once. That’s easy to understand when you’re getting pounded in most of your outings. It’s even easier to understand if Severino was pitching in pain longer than he admitted.
“I think whatever popped up was new today,” Girardi said.
Severino hit leadoff man Adam Eaton with the second pitch of the game. He wiggled out of a jam thanks to a diving play by shortstop Ronald Torreyes, but Severino’s reprieve was short-lived.
The White Sox scored three times in the second on four hits, including Alex Avila’s RBI double and Jose Abreu’s first-pitch, two-out, two-run single.
In the third, the White Sox scored four more on Eaton’s two-run double to deep center and Rollins’ two-run shot to right.
At that point, Severino was probably coming out of the game anyway. The injury made it certain.
With CC Sabathia on the disabled list and Ivan Nova in the rotation, the Yankees will likely look to the minors to fill Severino’s next scheduled start Wednesday at Arizona. The most-mentioned candidates by team brass are righthander Chad Green, whom the Yankees acquired from Detroit in the Justin Wilson trade, and lefthander Richard Bleier, a 29-year-old who has pitched in 233 games, all of them in the minors.
Luis Cessa, who started the season in the Yankees bullpen, may have made a case for himself Friday night by throwing his best Triple-A start. Cessa, 24, allowed one run in six innings against Indianapolis. The Yankees also got the righthander in the Wilson deal.
The good news for the Yankees is they need only one outing from the fill-in if Sabathia returns from his groin injury when eligible on May 20, as he hopes.
The Yankees’ lack of starting pitch depth was one of general manager Brian Cashman’s biggest worries coming out of spring training. Severino was not.
Now he is, for performance reasons and health reasons. Not what the Yankees had in mind at all.