On Saturday, Aaron Boone announced that Dellin Betances and Luis Severino would both begin throwing programs on this week. While this comes as a positive development, fans should temper their expectations.
First of all, there’s no guarantee we will see ether of these two on a mound this year. Severino has already had two setbacks since he initially felt pain way back in March. Betances also had a set back while attempting to rehab. The natural stress of throwing 100 MPH, combined with the questionable decision making and protocol from the medical and training staff, means more setbacks could be lurking. If you need another example, look no further than Jordan Montgomery.
Even if these two hurlers are able to contribute at some point, it won’t be until September. Brian Cashman has already said that Severino will need between six and seven weeks to ramp up, and Betances will likely need a similar timeframe. This puts a tentative return date sometime between August 26 and September 2. Remember, this “timeframe” assumes a fully clean rehab timeline with no set backs. Based on how the year is going, it is very tough to make this assumption.
Both of these pitchers rely heavily on elite velocity to be effective. Betances has previously stated that his arm usually isn’t up to full strength until a few months into the season. Remember, he is referring to a normal, healthy season.
During a normal year, he usually isn’t touching 100 MPH until the end of May or June. If he starts throwing this week, it’s very possible his arm isn’t in peak form until to the end of September or even October. We may only see Dellin at 95-96 for most of September, but hopefully he is fully ramped up by the playoffs.
As for Severino, he generally doesn’t take as long, but they will still be careful. I don’t have as a much of a read on Severino’s timeline for velocity, but I wouldn’t expect him to be pumping 99 consistently when he first gets back.
Stretching out Sevy
As a starting pitcher, the Yankees often ask Severino to pump out about 100 pitches per start. Given our timeline constraints, it may not be possible to stretch him out this far. Over the weekend, Cashman speculated that Severino may only have enough time to ramp up to the 65-75 pitch mark. This limit would essentially make Severino a five inning pitcher. While this sounds a bit depressing, there are still a ton of ways the Yankees could utilize Severino.
They could try him as a “five and fly” guy. Essentially they would ask him for starts similar to his Wild Card game last year: bbetween four and five innings at max effort. They could also utilize him as an opener, having him throw just one or two innings before turning the ball over to the bullpen- (or Domingo German if his innings limit kicks in.) Another option would be some sort of combination of Severino, German, and CC Sabathia in a playoff game. While Severino probably isn’t going to be a seven inning guy, there are still plenty of ways the Yankees can unleash him.
It’s exciting to have Severino and Betances restarting their rehab assignments, but expectations must be tempered. We don’t know exactly when, or even if, these two will be actually be on the mound in the Bronx. Even though we can’t predict their exact roles or performance levels, having some version of these two back is better than no version at all. It’s up to Brian Cashman and company to figure out the best way to utilize these two flame throwers down the stretch.