The New York Yankees have something special in Luis Severino. After an abysmal 2016 season as a starter, Severino has been a completely different pitcher in 2017. He’s undoubtedly been the team’s ace throughout the first third of the season. Many had Severino penned as the future ace of the staff after his debut in 2015, but his huge step back last season had people scratching their heads. Well, the Severino of 2015 is back and has led the Yankees to the top of the AL East.
11 seems to be the magic number for Luis Severino throughout his young pitching career. In 2015, Severino made 11 starts, helping the Yankees earn a Wild Card spot. He was 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA and 1.203 WHIP. He provided a glimpse into the future that Yankee fans were delighted to see and had high hopes for the 21-year-old entering the 2016 season.
Severino reached that 11 start mark once again in 2016 but looked like a completely different pitcher. Over those 11 starts Severino was 0-8 with an 8.50 ERA and 1.783 WHIP. He was forced out of the rotation and into the bullpen, where he regained his footing as a dominant pitcher. In 23 ⅓ innings as a reliever, he posted a 0.39 ERA and limited hitters to a .105 BAA. We’ve seen pitchers perform differently depending on their roles before, but Severino’s case was peculiar, to say the least.
After earning a starting rotation spot in spring, Severino hasn’t looked back. He will make his 11th start of the season on Sunday. Up to that point, he has been lights out with a record of 4-2, a 2.93 ERA and a 1.076 WHIP. He’s doing what we expected him to do last season, which begs the question, what in the world has gotten into Luis Severino?
Severino never lost the mindset that he wanted to start. Despite his struggles as a starter and subsequent dominance as a reliever, he never thought of himself as anything other than a starter. Fortunately, the New York Yankees had the same mentality. He’s pitching with a higher level of confidence, and it’s showing in his pitch selection.
The most noticeable change in Severino’s approach has been the effectiveness of his changeup. He’s not throwing it at astronomical rates, but he’s complimenting it with his fastball better than he ever has before. It’s inducing ground balls and limiting line drives, as well as keeping hitters off balance for when he throws his fastball in at 100+ mph.
Severino has been mixing his pitches well, throwing his fastball 51.5 percent of the time, and his slider and changeup a combined 48.5 percent. Pitching at the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium has inflated his ERA a bit. He’s balanced his 3.77 ERA at home with a 2.08 ERA on the road, placing him seventh in the AL at 2.93.
Luis Severino has helped the New York Yankees rise to and stay at the top of the American League East. The Yankees have been a fun team to watch all season, especially when Severino takes the mound. He’ll take the mound Sunday afternoon against the Blue Jays.