'98 Yanks rally to tie All-Time Yankee series with '51 team

Series tied: 2-2
Knobby, Jeet, sparkplugs!
Gil takes El Duque downtown!
In dramatic appearance, Joe D ignites stadium!
Mo flubs lead, then comes through!
Billy fails!
Next up: Vic Raschi v David Cone!

Saturday, January 30, 2021

A subtle re-examination of Luis Serverino's timetable raises questions about the rotation's House of Cards

In a flurry of interviews late this week, the famed comedy team of Cash & Boo batted away all questions regarding the 9/11 inside job, the fake death of JFK Jr., who shot JR? the 2021 Yankees. This week's Marianne Williamson Award of Hope goes to  Aaron Boone, who uncorked his personal view that Gary Sanchez will be an all-star. 

Wow. There's crazy and there is CA-RAZY! That's optimism!

Meanwhile, Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman raved about the team's chances which - WAIT A MINUTE, I JUST HAD A REVELATION - can be summed up this way:

The 2021 Yankees are a team of wild cards chasing a Wild Card.

But one little drone seems to have raised concerns: Cashman's revelation that Luis Severino won't return until late summer, and maybe then as a bullpen cog, rather than a pillar of our Olympian rotation. We've come to assume that Severino would function as the cavalry, riding in at the all-star break (Gary playing, of course) to fortify the staff. Now, should we wonder?

Actually, I don't think Cashman has moved the goalposts on us. Severino underwent Tommy John surgery last Feb. 27, and where I come from, it generally takes pitchers 18 months to fully recover. That puts Severino returning around August and, frankly, it would be foolish to rush him, considering his career.

It's time to soberly access expectations for Severino, who could be yet another lost Yankee future ace - Hughes, Joba, Brackman, et al - who raises hopes beyond his abilities. The Yankees - with all their big market bluster - have a tendency to push a few prospects early on - Jasson Dominequez, your pedestal is waiting - and assign expectations that can never be fulfilled. 

Severino's career is a succession of "firsts" and "youngests,"burned into our brains by the Death Star marketing machinery. After being hyped throughout the minors, he burst onto the scene in 2015, the youngest MLB starter that year. In his debut, he became the first AL pitcher in MLB history to strike out seven hitters while walking none. (There is a first for everything, am I right?)

Severino floundered in 2016. That May, he got crushed by the White Sox, 7 runs in less than three innings, and immediately went on the DL with triceps inflammation. He was supposed to be back in a few weeks. It turned into July, when he reappeared as a bullpen lug nut.

That led to his peak - 2017 - when he finished third in the Cy Young balloting. He was the first AL pitcher with an ERA below 3.00 and 230 or more strikeouts at age 23 or younger - since Roger Clemens in 1981. 

In 2018, he became the first Yankee pitcher since Mel Stottlemyre to reach the all-star break with 14 wins. He tailed off, though, finishing 19-8 with an ERA of 3.39. 

On Feb. 15, 2019, he signed a four-year, $40 contract extension. In March, he was diagnosed with rotator cuff inflammation. They said he'd miss a month. In April, he strained his lateral. They said six weeks. It turned into September - he never made a rehab start in Scranton. They started him in the playoffs. It didn't go well. 

Last February, as we slotted him in for a Cy Young year, the hammer dropped: Tommy John. 

Listen: At every step along the way, Severino's rehabs have stumbled and lengthened. There is no reason to expect anything different, and no reason to push him into yet another injury that - frankly - would make him a candidate for the New Joba.  

Severino will be 27 this year. He'll miss most of it. Four starts in September? Maybe that's all we'll get. Marianne Williamson, I'm not.


ranger_lp said...

Silver lining...at least Sevy would be well rested into the World Series, uh ALDS, uh Wild Card...

13bit said...

You know, in my constant profanity-laced, uncouth, ignorant daily lashings of Cashman and Hal, I tend to forget one other party/parties to excoriate when it comes to Los Yanquis - the training, coaching and medical staffs. Have I left anyone out?

I would LOVE to see stats - yes, I want to see stats - comparing how our pitchers fare in terms of injury rates, return from rehab rates and longevity, in general. That takes a lot of work, so I won't be compiling those stats. Much easier to sit on my tree stump, naked, and bark at the squirrels.

DickAllen1964 said...

Reading your post this morning brought back memories of Francisco Liriano, a pitcher I saw in Rochester New York sixteen, maybe seventeen years ago. He was like nothing I had ever seen before, so dominant a pitcher was he in the Twins organization. He was not long for Rochester, and it wasn't long before forearm tightness led to TJ in November 2006. He was never the same pitcher. There were flashes of brilliance going forward, but here's the most important thing I remember about his career:

He didn't make a full recovery until 2009 - as you say, two full years went by before he became an effective pitcher again. Though, to put things into perspective, he didn't reclaim any semblance of his former self until 2010. The remainder of his career has been something of a roller coaster ride.

So, I wouldn't put too much stock in Severino going forward. Both he and Liriano are built the same physically. Both came up as power pitchers and neither lasted very long before getting shut down.

I still contend that the Yankees essentially destroyed Severino by having him throw 384 innings over two consecutive seasons after pitching him in 131 combined the previous two years. That is what kills an arm.

Anything we get out of him going forward will be a gift but, sad to say, I suspect we have already seen the best of his career.

13bit - I don't think this problem is limited to the Yankees. TJS is an epidemic all across baseball - at every level. I met a high school kid two years ago - 16-17 years old - who was visiting SoCal for an appointment with his doctor after he had had TJ earlier that year. He was essentially done. Man was not meant to throw a baseball at such high speeds and at such spin rates. Maybe one or two every generation are born with such a gift, but most do not survive the enormous strain.

JimmyEatsHotDogs said...

If Yankees are wise they will hold Severino out until 2022 season. The possibility of 2months in Sep-Oct just doesn't seem worth the risk!

JM said...

But...but... German! Whoo.

Kevin said...

I would love to see a statistical analysis of pitcher usage, and effectiveness since the Verducci Era began v. fifteen year blocks of time going back to 1970. Of course in that analysis improved surgical techniques would have to be calculated into the numerical stew.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Bitty, I've been barking up that tree for years. Remember's Cashman's promised investigation of the coaching and training staffs? Wonder what happened to that.

Yes, everybody gets injuries, and young pitchers always get injured a lot. But the Yankees HAVE, in recent years, been running up excessive numbers of these injuries, compared to the past and to other teams.

In my never humble opinion, I suspect this is due mostly to excessive weight training for a game that is really all about endurance.

But it's also about Brain's incessant, blind optimism, which includes never, ever planning for injuries and always assuming that injured players—especially pitchers—will quickly bounce back, better than ever.

It's nonsense. Most guys DON'T come back big from TJ surgery. And even for those who do, their recovery time is long and unpredictable.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And yeah, Dick Allen, I think you are spot on, with your analysis that the Yanks ignored the many, flashing red warning signs that Sevvy was a fragile pitcher.

They also lied about it, I suspect. His peak came in that game in mid-2018, when he was shutting out the Sox—and they abruptly pulled him from a contest where he was pitching a shutout, with nobody on base, a big lead, one out left to go in the 7th, and a nothing hitter at the plate.

Almost certainly, they knew something was wrong. But they went on pitching him all through the rest of the season, then tried to bring him back in 2019.

Ridiculous. I fear that ended his career.