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Luis Severino: How can he impact the Yankees?

I live for two things: the destruction of Major League Baseball at the hands of the New York Yankees and watching Luis Severino incinerate hitters. At the start of 2019, I thought we were getting a combination of both. Unfortunately, I had to settle for one. After seeing the kind of beat-downs our rotation took in Minnesota and Boston, it’s hard to not miss the kind of anchor he was for a solid year and a half.

Everyone remembers the summer of 2018 as the summer of deGrom, but for a while, our guy was giving him a run for his money. Other than a bad start in Boston, Sevy was at peak dominance from the start of the 2018 season until July 1st. Here is how he did in that time:

118.1 IP, 138 Ks, 29 BB, 1.98 ERA, .195 Opponent AVG, .533 OPS

The Yankees were 16-2 in his starts – and one of those losses came after Sevy gave up only 2 runs against the Mets in an 0-2 loss. This is why, when things began falling off the rails for him, it was that much more devastating. Sevy days went from guaranteed wins to the Yanks having a 50/50 shot at a W when he took the mound. From July 1st to the end of the season, Sevy wasn’t the same. This is how he pitched during that stretch:

73 IP, 82 Ks, 17 BB, 5.67 ERA, .299 Opponent AVG, .855 OPS

The K to BB rate was great, but he got knocked around a lot. Everyone was hitting him and his home run rate more than doubled after July 1st. Before then, he’d given up 6; after, he gave up 13. In the day and age of the long ball though, 13 home runs doesn’t even feel THAT terrible. August is here and Justin Verlander has already given up 28 dingers this season. Still, for what he was, that was un-Sevy like.

Maybe Sevy wasn’t THAT bad

Look, I don’t want to sound like I’m making excuses here for Sevy, but his infield at the half didn’t exactly channel the ghost of Honus Wagner.

As great as Miguel Andujar was with his bat, his defense was obviously schmeh (-15.5 Defensive fWAR, -25 DRS). An infield starring Miggy, Gleyber Torres (-7.9 Defensive fWAR, -1 DRS), and Luke Voit (-3.7 Defensive fWAR, -7.7 DRS), didn’t throw Sevy any bones. Do we even need to get into how Austin Romine letting base runners steal any bag they wanted, or mention Gary Sanchez’s passed ball issue?

Well, actually, Fangraphs liked Gary. (9 Defensive fWAR, 6 DRS). But did Sevy like him is the question:

The reason I bring this up is that, while his initial ERA ballooned from the first half to the second half, the peripheral ERA’s that were more in his control were much better. He had a 2.95 FIP* and his Skills Interactive ERA (SIERA), a favorite metric by @GregBirdRBW, was 3.26.

FIP is similar to ERA, but it focuses solely on the events a pitcher has the most control over — strikeouts, unintentional walks, hit-by-pitches and home runs. It entirely removes results on balls hit into the field of play. – From MLB.com
SIERA: A more advanced version of tERA, SIERA is meant to remove the volatility of ERA, while also allowing for the notion that balls in play are somewhat in the control of the pitcher. It also weaves together different aspects of pitching. So walks are a bit less harmful to pitchers who induce ground balls at a high rate, as ground-ball pitchers are more likely than fly-ball pitchers to have a walk erased by a subsequent double play. – From MLB.com


As Randy Miller of the Newark Star-Ledger has reported, we won’t even see Sevy until September (barring no setbacks). If this happens, he’ll return to the rotation during the playoffs (yikes). If that isn’t telling of what the starting rotation has been for the Yanks in 2019, then I don’t know what is.

What makes this worse is that the guys we have slated in, Masa, Pax and Happ, have all been relegated to question-mark status. On top of this, Domingo German – a kid who has been the defacto ace – is on an innings limit. So what’s the best way to make the best of these two issues? Combine them into one: make Sevy his SUPER OPENER. (Well, you probably knew I was going to say SUPER OPENER since I called this emboldened section that.) You do this especially if Sevy’s return date is around 4 weeks away from now.

Luis Severino will be on a 75 pitch limit and, seeing as he won’t be going deep into games anyway, using him as an opener makes sense. As great as the results for Chad Green have been in that role, you really have to wonder if it is sustainable. Hitters are hitting .276 against him since he came back, and they’ve had an above-average .433 SLG % and a .745 OPS.

The first 75 pitches were Sevy’s bread and butter in 2018

If Sevy only has a 75 pitch limit and he’s an opener, that could be more than fine. It was during those first 75 pitches last year that Sevy excelled:

  • Pitches 1 – 25: 2.94 K’s per BB / .229 Opponent AVG / .696 Opponent OPS
  • Pitches 26 – 50: 4 K’s per BB / .211 Opponent AVG / .574 Opponent OPS
  • Pitches 51 – 75: 8.13 K’s per BB / .226 Opponent AVG / .588 Opponent OPS

Now even if we get something close to what we saw in his breakout year in 2017, I’ll take that in a heartbeat. It’s still much better than having Chad Green:

  • Pitches 1 – 25: 6 K’s per BB / .203 Opponent Avg / .591 Opponent OPS
  • Pitches 26 – 50: 3.62 K’s per BB / .215 Opponent AVG / .575 Opponent OPS
  • Pitches 51 – 75: 3.63 K’s per BB / .219 Opponent AVG / .613 Opponent OPS


Here are some lines and stats from a previous article I wrote on Domingo German using an opener. I got this info from a great Tampa Bay Times article:

  • In the first inning the Rays allowed .41 runs per inning. This was well below the MLB and American League average.
  • In the second inning they gave up .44 runs in the second inning. This ran along the lines of MLB average but was still below the AL average.
  • They were below the MLB and AL average up until the 7th inning where they finally saw a spike in runs.

And here is data on how Rays openers over-performed (actual ERA vs. projected ERA) for the 2018 season:

  • Ryne Stanek (actual ERA of 2.98 vs. projected ERA of 3.79)
  • Diego Castillo (3.18 vs. 4.90)
  • Hunter Wood (3.73 vs. 4.64)
  • Ryan Yarbrough (3.91 vs. 4.56)
  • Yonny Chirinos (3.51 vs. 4.43)
  • Vidal Nuno (1.64 vs. 4.86)