Yankees general manager Brian Cashman provided a more concrete timetable for right-hander Luis Severino to return from his current shoulder troubles Friday, revealing that the organization doesn’t expect Severino to pitch in a big league game until sometime in May (Twitter link via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com). Severino is currently in the midst of a two-week shutdown stemming from inflammation in his right shoulder’s rotator cuff. He’s expected to begin playing catch next week.
There’s more optimistic news surrounding fellow starter CC Sabathia, as Cashman indicated that the veteran left-hander could pitch in big league games in the month of April (via Hoch). Beyond his recovery from offseason knee surgery and an angioplasty procedure, Sabathia is still facing a five-game suspension for throwing at now-former Rays catcher Jesus Sucre late in the 2018 season. Cashman suggested that the team may carry Sabathia on the Opening Day roster, which would allow the clock on said suspension to begin sooner.
Given today’s updates from the general manager, it seems that the Yankees will spend at least a month of the season patching together the rotation behind healthy starters James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ. The Yankees have depth in the form of Domingo German, Jonathan Loaisiga, Chance Adams and the out-of-options Luis Cessa, and the frequent off-days baked into the early-season schedule should aid the team as well. The Yankees (like all clubs) won’t technically need a fifth starter for the first couple of weeks because of those off days, which could at least help them patch the gap until Sabathia is ready to take the hill.
Still, the timetable on Severino is an unwelcome one — particularly if there are any setbacks or lingering complications from his current shoulder issue. While the Yankees do have the depth to navigate the early absences of Severino and Sabathia, they’ll also continue to be speculatively linked to remaining free agents such as Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Keuchel until that pair has come off the boar and signed with a new organization. Either hurler would be a boon to the projected Opening Day rotation, but signing either would also give the Yankees six legitimate MLB starters for what figures to be five rotation spots if the entire group were to become healthy at the same time. There are also luxury-tax implications to consider; the Yankees’ current contracts bring their luxury-tax ledger to $226MM, per Roster Resource’s Jason Martinez, meaning they would pay a 32 percent tax on any theoretical free-agent signing.