Saturday, September 5, 2015

Luis Severino is the most exciting Yankee pitcher since - well - Joba.

Twenty-eight games left. Tied in the loss column. We are technically a half-game out of first, because the Juggernaut Jays - baseball's latest version of the ''27 Yankees - lost last night, 10-2.

Starting next Thursday, we play Toronto four times in NYC, and then three in Toronto a week later. Yep, everything will happen over seven days... the way God did it. 

We will face Toronto without Mark Teixeira. Though erratic, Greg Bird has hit 4 HRs over two weeks. He's no Kevin Maas... a statement that cuts both ways, am I right?

But I'm here this morning to bloviate about about two great Yankee pitching prospects, one coming, one gone.

Joba Chamberlain - at age 29 - is trying to hang onto an MLB career like a cat clawing a chalkboard. Two months ago, he was waived by the Tigers, then picked up by Toronto, who then waived him.  He's now a Kansas City Royal. The kid with the Fred Flintstone body, the meth lab mom and the dad in the wheelchair - the guy who in 2007 was so surely destined to be a great Yankee, the guy who was attacked by the gnats - may be done by 30.

Damn, baseball is cruel.

But as John Irving once wrote, "When the dear disappear, someone else is always near." And these days, the Yankiverse is holding dear to Luis Severino, who'll turn 22 in February. Severino started three years ago, age 18, throwing 64 innings in a Dominican league. The following year, he threw 44 in Florida. Last year, he broke out as a prospect, moved up several levels, and the Yankees limited him to 113 innings, with precise pitch counts.

This season, Severino has now thrown 128.

This has prompted debate on whether he's throwing too much, or whether the so-called "babying" of Chamberlain's arm - "the Joba Rules" - did more damage than good. I haven't clue what is right or wrong. We could throw anecdotes and statistics on this for the rest of our lives and still have no answers.

But this we know:
With 28 games left in the regular season, Severino should get five, maybe six, starts. With luck - that is, he doesn't get hammered - he should throw another 30 innings. That would put him in the neighborhood of 160 for the year. And if we're really lucky, he might throw another 25 in the post-season. He could be pushing 190.

I say this as a Chicken Little Yankee fan, always terrified of Suzyn's Clubhouse injury report. Severino has been one of the best things to happen to the Yankees in this decade. Thus far, he is everything they said he would be, and the last time anyone held up to the YES nightmare p.r. machine, it was a kid named Robby.  (Technically, you could say Chris Capuano was everything they said he'd be, but that's a different story.)

Listen: There is no debate. The Yankees are in a pennant race - a legitimate one, not scrambling for the last remaining away-field single-game fool's quest - and they are facing one of the most powerful teams in recent memory. We have no choice, other than to pitch Severino beyond his innings and see what happens. He could be our next great pitcher. But let's enjoy every pitch, while he's here. Because he might someday make us cry.

1 comment:

John M said...

The most important thing is protecting him from the gnats. That was the beginning of the end for Jobs. Maybe those gnats were carrying an anti-Yankee experimental potion of some kind, or were actually space aliens whose nightmarish probes destroyed his fragile psyche, already damaged by meth-laced breast milk as a baby. It doesn't matter. We have to enact a Gnat Protection Protocol for Sev before it's too late.