The situation: New York has taken a solid lead in the AL East thanks in large part to one of the best offenses in baseball. The starting pitching hasn’t been up to the task as of late though, and with the Yankees unwilling to move their big prospects at the trade deadline to improve the rotation, they’ll call up one of those untouchable prospects in Luis Severino to make his debut Wednesday against the Red Sox.
Background: The Yankees gave Severino $225,000 in the summer of 2012 as a raw right-hander out of Sabana de la Mar in the Dominican Republic. Despite being in the system for only three years, he’s advanced quickly and put up imposing numbers along the way; with a career ERA of 2.30 and 323 strikeouts in just over 320 innings. He’s been even more impressive in 2015 – particularly since his call up to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre, where the 21-year-old right-hander has posted a 1.91 ERA in 61 innings before receiving his call-up to The Bronx.
Scouting report: Severino doesn’t have prototypical size – or anything close – but he’s able to consistently hit the high 90’s with his fastball; generally sitting 93-95 with some sink. At times he’ll overthrow the offering and it’ll flatten out, and since there’s not much plane that could cause problems – especially when you consider he’ll pitch in that jet-stream in “the house that Jeter built.”
Severino’s out-pitch is the fastball, but the change is what makes him such an effective hurler. He has excellent arm-speed on the offering along with advanced feel, and he can either pull the string in the strike zone or let its late fade tumble out of the strike zone when he’s ahead in the count. He also throws a slider that isn’t near the quality of the top two pitches, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s made strides in 2015 as it has shown more tilt and depth, though like the fastball, he’ll overthrow it and it will flatten up in the zone at times. He pounds the zone with all three pitches, and the command has a chance to be above-average as he matures.
There’s no question that Severino has the stuff to pitch every fifth day, but there are some reasons to be concerned about the long-term profile. In addition to the less-than-ideal size, Severino has a delivery that is extremely arm-heavy; relying on his impressive arm strength to produce the big velocity and deception. It shouldn’t hurt him in the short-term, but because of the stress this can put on the arm, it could have long-term ramifications. – Christopher Crawford
Immediate Big League Future: With a 70 fastball, 60 change and the ability to throw strikes with three pitches, there’s reason to believe that Severino will be successful at the big league level immediately, though he isn’t – and never will be – an innings eater who consistently goes deep in games. There’s still a legitimate chance he ends up in the bullpen, but the stuff says starter, and he should be able to hold his own as the Yankees try and solidify their standing as one of the best teams in the American League.
Fantasy Impact: Anytime a pitcher with Severino’s history of missing bats in the minors gets the call, fantasy owners have a right to be excited. That’s especially true when said pitchers debut for good teams, yielding the possibility of positive contributions in four or more categories. But while there’s plenty to be excited about with Severino, fantasy owners should be judicious in how they use him for the remainder of the season.
As detailed above, Severino has the potential to run into some homerun issues in the big leagues even though he hasn’t to this point in his career. Yankee Stadium ranks as the sixth-most homer-friendly park in the majors this year after finishing first in 2014, and it’s easy to envision Severino giving up his share of bombs when he pitches at home. Add in that he has averaged fewer than 5.2 innings per start in the minors this year, and you can see why you’ll need to be selective about when you deploy him.
That being said, there’s obvious strikeout potential here, and on the road against weaker competition, Severino is worth a start if you’re behind in Ks or, given New York’s potent offense, fishing for wins. Severino’s already owned in dynasty leagues and isn’t worth heavily pursuing in keeper or shallow redraft leagues, but in AL-only or deep mixed formats, he’s worth a look. Just don’t get into a bidding war or burn a high waiver priority for him. – Ben Carsley
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