Luis Severino has seemingly turned back the clock. After three frustrating seasons basically lost to injuries, the right-hander has reminded everyone in baseball that he was once considered the Yankees’ ace and a Cy Young contender.
Now, the Yankees have to try to keep him that way.
Though they have played down the idea of innings limits, the Bombers are actively managing his workload, and that will become even more apparent in the second half of the season. Severino was lined up to pitch on Tuesday night, but the Yankees pushed him back. Gerrit Cole took the ball in the series opener against the Reds, meaning he would be the one who gets two starts this week heading into the All-Star break.
That limits Severino and Nestor Cotes as they head into the break.
“We’ve done it a little bit already. Bumping Sevy back here to Wednesday prevents him from making two more before the break. We’ll slot him in on that weekend probably in Baltimore, probably do the same with Nestor,” Aaron Boone said. “They’ll probably go to the back end of the rotation coming out of the All Star break. So and we’ve tried to be a little strategic with how we’ve done that with off days here and there. Also being mindful of Nestor and Sevy, so it’s certainly something we’re paying attention to closely and we’ll continue to do it that way.”
Severino, who pitched just 27.2 innings over the previous three years because of injuries, will take the mound with 84 innings pitched. Nestor Cortes, who has never pitched more than 93 innings in a season in the big leagues, will have pitched 88.2 innings when he takes the mound on Thursday before his first trip to the All-Star Game.
“We don’t have anything hard and fast to say he’s gonna throw 150 and this guy’s gonna throw 180,” Boone said. “No, we’re just mindful of that volume. And you know in the case of Nestor having not been there and Sevy not being there for a few years. W’re just kind of being mindful of it. So there’s a lot of ways we can measure where they’re at and how they’re doing and how they’re feeling, including talking to them individually.
“And we’ll continue to try and be as vigilant as we can in that regard.”
Severino has shown very little fatigue. He’s pitching to a 3.11 ERA this season, but a 1.50 over his last two starts, having allowed just two earned runs over his last 12 innings pitched.
Cortes has struggled over his last five starts. He’s allowed 13 earned runs, including seven of the 13 homers he has given up, in those starts for a 4.81 ERA. He has a 2.74 ERA overall this season.
Another way the Yankees could limit their workload is by piggybacking a reliever off their starts. That would mean giving them a four- or five-inning limit in a start and then have a multi-inning reliever back them up. In fact, that is one of the options the Yankees have discussed in conjunction with the return of Domingo German.
Boone said they are “still deciding,” on when the right-hander will come off the injured list, but a good bet would be Thursday so he is available in case they need to get Cortes out of his start early.
German began the season on the IL with right shoulder “impingement syndrome,” but has been making minor-league rehab starts for almost a month. In four rehab starts, German has allowed one earned run over 14.1 innings pitched. He struck out 10.