New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino has been shut down for six weeks with a grade two lat strain. This comes as a big blow for the Yankees as they were expecting him to make his season debut by the start of May after being sidelined with shoulder inflammation.
Luis Severino’s MRI showed grade 2 lat strain. He will be shut down 6 weeks. Injury independent of previous injury #yankees
— Meredith Marakovits (@M_Marakovits) April 9, 2019
The Big Picture
The Yankees currently have 11 players on the injured list, by far the most of any team so far this year. Of these 11, the case can be made that Severino is the most valuable.
Since 2017, he has established himself as the team’s ace and one of the best pitchers in baseball. Without him, the starting rotation has a lot of upside but a plethora of question marks.
Starting pitching has not been the Yankees’ Achilles heel so far this season. Through 11 games, the rotation has a 2.91 ERA in 52 2/3 innings pitched. That being said, it is easy to be skeptical of the current personnel long term.
Masahiro Tanaka can be counted on in a big game, and he is anchoring the rotation with three earned runs in 18 1/3 innings so far. His issue is the partially-torn ulnar collateral ligament that he has been pitching with for several years now. That ligament could snap at any given moment and would need Tommy John surgery if it did.
Aside from Tanaka, James Paxton is a tremendous pitcher, although he is very injury prone. J.A. Happ is in his late 30s and has struggled so far in 2019. Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga have shown flashes of promise but are young and inconsistent at times. Also, CC Sabathia, who has yet to appear this year, is coming off of an off-season heart operation.
This shows just how valuable Severino is to the team. In spite of the success that the rotation has had, the longer Severino is out, the less stable the Yankee rotation looks long-term.
German and Loaisiga have been making regular starts with Severino and Sabathia on the injured list. Once Sabathia comes back, it looks as though it will be one of those two filling in for Severino long-term.
German has looked more impressive so far this season, and he even took a no-hitter into the sixth inning during his last start against the Orioles. He looks likely to get the nod over Loaisiga at this moment.
Aside from those two, the Yankees also have Gio Gonzalez pitching with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Gonzalez has the ability to opt out of his contract and re-enter free agency if the Yankees do not call him up by April 20th. Gonzalez is an experienced veteran that could be an asset to the team, but he missed Spring Training because of how late he signed. As a result, he gave up eight earned runs in four innings in his first start, although he rebounded with six scoreless innings in his second.
Dallas Keuchel is also still available, but the same concept applies with him as does with Gonzalez. He missed Spring Training and, therefore, will take longer to be game ready for Major League Baseball.
There are definitely plenty of options to keep the Yankees afloat while Severino recovers, but a pitcher of his talent will certainly be missed anchoring a high-risk, high-upside rotation.