Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Why does it feel like no matter how many injuries, unforeseen circumstances or just plain bad luck that the Yankees have to endure season after season, they always have someone else ready to make their mark? It is truly impressive, and a huge testament to the Yankees' management and front office for always finding ways to compete, no matter what. And in 2019, they had to do just that when Luis Severino's road to recovery seemed endless.
A month after signing a four-year, $40-million contract extension, including a club option for a fifth season worth $12.25-million, Severino went down with rotator cuff inflammation in his right shoulder. The injury subsequently held him out of play for a few weeks, with Severino eyeing a late Spring return. However, luck was just not on his side, for on April 9th, he was diagnosed with a grade two lat strain. As a result of all the injuries and set-backs, he did not make his 2019 debut until September 17th. As a whole, it's easy to conclude 2019 did not go as well as Severino, or his fantasy owners, had originally hoped. Going into 2020, Severino appears healthy and ready to go, and you should be very excited.
Born in Sabana de la Mar, Dominican Republic, Severino grew up a Yankees fan. Amazing how things work out, for he was then signed by the Yankees as an international free agent on December 26th, 2011, with a $225,000 signing bonus. In his first taste of professional baseball, playing rookie ball for the Dominican Summer League Yankees, Severino thrived. He pitched to a 1.68 ERA, with a solid 57.4% ground ball rate and 0.28 HR/9, but a questionable 45:17 K:BB(6.30 K/9). It is important to note that at the time, Severino was only 18-years-old and his fastball was sitting at just 91-92 mph, meaning he had yet to discover his elite velocity.
Then in 2015, following his promotion to AAA, Severino earned a 1.91 ERA, but a 3.47 xFIP in 61.1 innings pitching for the RailRiders. Moreover, he did not allow a single home run while pitching to a 50:17 K:BB. This excellent play at the only professional level lower than the Majors, and the mid-summer injury to Michael Pineda, forced Brian Cashman's hand. After three seasons in the Yankees' minor leagues, Severino finally got his chance to pitch for the big league club. On August 5th, 2015, Severino made his long-awaited MLB debut vs the Red Sox, allowing just two runs on two hits, with no walks and seven strikeouts. During his debut, his fastball sat between 96-97 mph and in all, Severino put the baseball world on notice.
In the first 62.1 innings of his MLB career, Severino earned a 2.89 ERA and a 3.84 SIERA, with a 56:22 K:BB and a 50.3% ground ball rate. He was quite effective in his first season and the hype train was full-steam ahead going into the 2016. However, that train stopped quite abruptly, for in mid-May 2016, he endured a trip to the disabled list for right triceps inflammation, but his season was already off to a discouraging start, as he had a 7.46 ERA in 35.0 innings up to that point. Many were beginning to question his potential.
Then after his return from injury on July 27th, he had a 6.61 ERA as the growing struggles continued. However, he had a 2.88 xFIP and 2.88 SIERA during that time, and his .333 BABIP and 40.7% left on base rate could help explain his results. For the season, he had a 64% left on base rate, a .324 BABIP, and a 4.06 SIERA. In sum, Severino's 2016 season was a roller coaster ride, but a necessary one, because it seemed like the growing lessons worked. For in 2017, Severino finished with a 2.98 ERA, 3.04 xFIP, and a 3.25 SIERA. More than that, he earned a 230:51 K:BB in 193.1 innings pitched and ultimately finished third in AL Cy Young votes, just behind Chris Sale and 2017 winner, Corey Kluber. It was a year that volted Severino's name into the conversations of "Who is elite?", and deservedly so. Now, fast-forward to Severino's age-26 season and he is primed to once again show many why he is one of the better pitchers in the game today.
Armed with an above average fastball(96 mph), an exceptional slider(85 mph) that sweeps through the zone and a hard changeup(88 mph) that results in a good amount of his ground balls, Severino's arsenal isn't deep, but he knows how to use it very effectively. In 2018, his latest season pitching in at least 150.0 innings, his 28.2% K was top 15, his 5.9% BB was top 20 and his 0.9 HR/9 was also top 20 in baseball, among pitchers who had at least 150 innings pitched. Continuing his effectiveness from 2017, Severino understood how to rack up strikeouts, while limiting walks and not allowing many home runs(33% FB rate), a proven recipe for success for any pitcher.
Additionally, his xBA, xwOBA and xOBP were all top 25 marks among qualified pitchers in 2018. This indicates he simply knew and knows, how to limit hits base runners, everything you ask out of your starting pitchers. Beyond all this, something that makes Severino truly dangerous is his elite control of three above average pitches. Now this may sound simple, but having the skill to to throw a 97 mph fastball where you want and when you want is not easy, but Severino has learned to do just that. His high-end fastball velocity results in a lot of rising action and thus a heavy amount of whiffs on the edges of the plate and above the belt.
Furthermore, in 2018, Severino rarely got whiffs on his fastball around the knees, mainly because he didn't have to. To be specific, his slider produced 167 whiffs out of the 685 sliders throw in the bottom right section of the zone, good for a 24.4 whiff% with his slider when thrown down and away from right handed hitters and down and into left handed hitters, with left handed hitters seeing the pitch virtually disappearing as it sweeps closer to their knees. His slider is a true weapon and even more so because he understands how to use it, when to use it and where to use it.
Let's adulate his slider even more shall we: out of the 1131 sliders thrown by Severino in 2018, batters mustered a paltry .191 BAA, with a .297 SLG and a .106 ISO. Furthermore, 119 of his 220 strikeouts for the season come via his slider; it is truly his pitch to turn to when he wants to get batters chasing. Beyond all this, in his 12 innings pitched in 2019, he did not give up a home run, while his fastball and slider were their usual dominant selves, permitting just a .127 batting average in the 33 at-bats in which he threw those pitches. In all, the baseball community needs to remember just how good Severino can be when healthy. Heading into his age-26 season, I think we'll be reminded fairly quickly, and efficiently.
Should you target Luis Severino in Fantasy Baseball 2020?
Per NFBC, Severino has an ADP of 61.60, being drafted around guys like Darvish, Glasnow, Greinke, Syndergaard, and more. All very fine options, but Severino's disappointing 2019 season could very well keep him under-the-radar just enough to grab an elite arm at a great discount. Additionally, it is wise to give Severino time if he comes out inconsistent, for this is a truly talented player, and jumping ship early could prove catastrophic to your season.
For those in dynasty and keeper leagues, be very happy that Severino is in your possession and not the next guy. Beyond that, be smart about him. If someone likes Severino a lot in your league, talk to them, test the waters to see what you could land for him. For as many times as I've said it, I cannot emphasize enough the value Severino brings as a player, for years to come, and at his 2020 ADP. In 2020, if you are up in the 6-8th rounds of a 12-team snake draft and you see Severino, you take the bargain. Bargains can win leagues, and that's why we play right? Do not overlook him this season, he will help your fantasy squads immensely. Sevy is back!
In this Fantasy Baseball article, I provided an in-depth analysis of Luis Severino and if you should buy into him for 2020 and beyond. Do you agree? Who would you want to see analyzed next? Let us know! You can find us on Twitter: @FantasyLogician, @starks_industry, and @AintDunneYet
Thank you for reading this Severino overview guys, your support is very much appreciated! Every year there are goes that are overlooked or forgotten about, I'm here to make sure you all remember just how dominant Severino can be. Have a blessed day everyone!
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Written By: Micah S. Henry
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