What Options The Yankees Have With Luis Severino Struggling Down The Stretch

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Yankee ace Luis Severino has not been looking like an ace lately. He’s not even looking like a fifth starter. In his last five starts, Severino has only managed one win, and three times he failed to get out of the fifth inning. In those five starts, he’s only posted a total of 26 innings pitched, in which he surrendered 21 hits and 23 earned runs as can be seen on his ESPN slash line. He’s also throwing 90-100 pitches just to make it four or five innings in recent outings, which indicates he’s having control issues.

The problem with all of this is that no one knows what his problem is. Everyone from manager Aaron Boone to armchair analysts have posed theories as to why Severino has seemingly hit the wall. While many of them make perfect sense, the more pressing question is how do the Yankees work through this lapse of effectiveness Severino is experiencing to get the team moving forward while simultaneously getting him back on track.

Power through it. The mostly likely course of action the Yankees will take is to let Severino continue taking the ball every fifth day with the hopes that he works through whatever is going on with him. Boone has cited at varying times, according to Inquisitr, that he could be dealing with a fatigue or confidence issue. Potentially, it could be both problems feeding each other. Severino has said in several interviews that he is not tired, but his performances of late look a lot like he is.

Schedule an appointment with the mechanic. It is very possible that what is wrong with Severino is a mechanical issue. His pitches the last few starts lack pop and bite according to MLB.com, particularly his slider. If all Severino needs is some extra time with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, the odds are he can be back on track within a matter of a couple starts. In the old days, Severino would go down to AAA to work the kinks out, but in this era, aces don’t do that anymore. It’s also possible that he is tipping his pitches, which he has had a problem with before. If so, Rothschild is the guy to fix that too.

Take it easy. While rest over the All-Star break didn’t appear to do any good for Severino, it could be that he needs more of it, either in a block or an extra day or two between starts. If the Yankees choose to go in this direction, there are two different ways they can handle it, and both options point toward Justus Sheffield getting involved in the mix.

If they decide that Severino needs a block of time off to rest, work on mechanics without having to prepare for a start, or both, the Yankees can slot Sonny Gray or Justus Sheffield into the rotation. Luis Cessa has been their go-to guy for situations like this throughout the season, but he is struggling as much as Severino, so it would be akin to trading a hernia for a double-hernia. Gray is not much of an option either as he was just demoted to the bullpen for lack of effectiveness. The remaining option is Justus Sheffield, who Cashman just said will be on the roster this month and actually pitching, not just stopping in for a cup of coffee, per Inquisitr.

The other option on the take it easy path is to give Severino an extra day between starts by going to a six-man rotation, as posited by North Jersey. If it is a fatigue issue, this option would provide some relief. If it is a mechanical issue, it will give him extra time to work on it. The benefit of this over other options is that it would also give the rest of the rotation a break, and with C.C. Sabathia’s knee problems that couldn’t hurt. It would also allow Justus Sheffield to start, which is his natural role, not the bullpen.

If Sheffield is going to potentially be a short-series starter in the playoffs, getting some big league innings in now can’t hurt. A six-man rotation would also shave a few innings off of his arm so he can remain fresher. This all, of course, hinges on what Severino tells the team is going on with him. It’s not time to panic over his performance just yet, but it is time to get busy addressing it. With the season 75 percent over, the Yankees need to make a move right now to right their ace or risk watching baseball on television this October rather than playing it.