Luis Severino’s recent MRI revealed a Grade 2 lat strain that will cause the righty to be shut down from throwing for the next six weeks, the Yankees announced to reporters (Twitter link via Newsday’s Erik Boland). The lat injury is a new development that is unrelated to the previous bout of shoulder inflammation from which Severino was working his way back. This new injury, it seems, was sustained while Severino was rehabbing his shoulder.
As has been well documented by now, the Yankees have a staggering 11 players on the injured list, though it’s arguable that Severino is the most vital of the bunch. The recently extended righty was expected to front the rotation in 2019 but now seems destined to miss the majority of the season’s first half. A six-week shutdown would mean that Severino wouldn’t even resume throwing until the latter third of May, and at that point he’d need to completely rebuild arm strength sufficient to handle a starter’s workload at the big league level. Even in a best-case scenario, there’s little hope of Severino making his first start of the season before the middle of June.
With Severino and CC Sabathia on the shelf, the Yankees have been leaning on James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ as the top three options in the starting rotation. Right-handers Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga have been the preferred options at the back of the rotation to this point in the young season, though the Yankees also picked up Gio Gonzalez on surprising a minor league contract late in Spring Training.
The prolonged absence of Severino will do nothing to quell connections between the Yankees and yet-unsigned Dallas Keuchel — the clear-cut top option remaining on the open market. Keuchel’s asking price has reportedly begun to come down recently, though signing him would still come with both luxury tax concerns and draft penalties; specifically, the Yankees would pay a 32 percent tax on any dollars spent on Keuchel and would forfeit their second-highest draft pick and $500K of international bonus money by signing the 2015 AL Cy Young winner.
If the Yankees opt to remain internal, it’ll mean continued looks for German and Loaisiga, plus a potential opportunity for the veteran Gonzalez and/or young righty Chance Adams.