Luis Severino and Dellin Betances each pitched on rehab Friday night with the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate in Trenton. According to manager Aaron Boone, Severino is the further along of the two hurlers. In fact, Boone tells Dan Martin of the New York Post, Severino’s next appearance might be on a major-league mound.
“Overall, it was pretty successful,” Boone told Martin of Severino’s rehab outing. “We’ll talk about whether one more is beneficial or [if he will] come with us.” The Yankees, tied with the Astros for the AL’s best record, are amidst a ten-game road trip.
Interestingly, it’s possible Severino returns as more or less a traditional starting pitcher. While we’ve seen a few teams bring back injured arms to work short stints in September, typically as openers, the Yankees seem determined to build their injured ace back up. “I think there’s a chance with where the calendar is, he could get built up pretty high,” Boone said of Severino, although he quickly cautioned that “we could always throttle him back and I could see him in a variety of roles for us.”
For his part, Severino, who has missed the entire season with lat and shoulder trouble, seems optimistic about his chances of building up the requisite arm strength to work deep into games by the time the postseason comes around. He only threw 50 pitches Friday for Trenton but told local reporters he believed he could ramp up to 90-100 pitches in a start by season’s end, Martin adds. While the Yankees have marvelously weathered myriad injuries this season, the starting rotation has proven to be something of a weak spot. Yankees’ starters rank 14th leaguewide in park-adjusted ERA, while the other top five teams in the AL standings all rank among the top seven in rotation run prevention.
In the wake of C.C. Sabathia’s most recent IL placement, the Yankees turned to a bullpen game to fill out the fifth slot in their rotation, so there seems to be an ideal opportunity for building up Severino’s workload at the MLB level. Notably, pitching coach Larry Rothschild raved to Martin about Severino’s shape, praising his fastball velocity and slider spin. Taking Rothschild at his word, it seems plausible the 25 year-old could be in position to handle major league hitters quite shortly.
The Bombers have had an easier time replacing Betances thanks to a never-ending shuttle of quality relief arms. Like Severino, the big righty hasn’t pitched in the majors this season, with a shoulder impingement explaining his absence. Boone told Martin the Yankees expect Betances will need some more minor-league time to build up strength, but his season debut also seems to be in the near future, Martin adds. It’ll be important for the 31 year-old to show his trademark power stuff when he does return, as Betances is scheduled to hit free agency for the first time this offseason.