TAMPA – Luis Severino still has a long way to go to become one of the best right-handers in the American League.
But after struggling with command in his first two Grapefruit League starts and then experiencing “general arm pain” after his last outing that rolled back his outing by three days, the Yankees and Severino have reason to feel better going into the regular season after his show on Saturday.
Severino pitched four scoreless innings, allowed just one hit — and no walks — while striking out three on 57 pitches, as the Yankees beat the Braves, 10-0 in a shortened six-inning game in the rain at Steinbrenner Field.
The difference, according to pitching coach Matt Blake, was that Severino stayed in his delivery after trying to knock down on his previous starts.
“He had a better mindset of not trying to do too much,” Blake said. “Her delivery was better. We saw good bikes again, 96-98 [mph]. He had better tempo control through home plate, so there wasn’t as much effort and fighting against throws. … It’s the maturing process of being comfortable throwing again.
That’s because the last time Severino started a season healthy and in the Yankees’ starting rotation was in 2018.
Since that second solid season in a row, Severino was sidelined for much of the next three years and pitched just 19 ¹/₃ innings during that span.
There were positive signs when Severino returned to come out of the bullpen last September, but if the Yankees really count on the right-hander to be their No. 2 starter behind Gerrit Cole, an outing like Saturday’s will help. give them confidence that he is up to the task.
And that came after red flags were raised earlier in the week when Severino felt pain after his second start.
He threw a 31-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday and reported no issues and looked good on Saturday.
“It was a really encouraging outing for him,” Aaron Boone said. “Now the next step is for him to wake up [Sunday] and feel good and hope it’s onward and up. … I like to see him do well, especially come back and get back into starter mode.
Enter the season [after] going through everything I’ve been through is more about mindset and feeling comfortable,” Severino said. “I know my body is fine now and I can control all my shots.”
In his previous start on March 25 against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., Severino said he struggled to get off the stretch. And although he felt healthy, something was wrong – which was clear in the sense that he walked four and hit no one.
“It wasn’t me there,” Severino said. “That was one of the issues: getting the ball in the area and not knocking it down. … I haven’t kicked in so long, that every time I feel something I worry because I don’t know what will happen next [since] I had so many injuries.
He hopes what he did on Saturday propels him into the season and that he doesn’t fall into a similar knockdown trap once he pitches meaningful games again.
“Every time they give me the ball, I throw hard,” Severino said. “I’ve noticed in the last few days that I don’t need to throw 100, 99, 98 [mph]. If I can control the zone and throw 94-95-97 for five or six innings and get people out, that’s [safer for my arm].”
New York Post