luis-severino

New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) reacts after striking out Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (not pictured) in the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium.

By Ryan Hatch

NEW YORK — However this 2016 season ends for the Yankees — on October 2 or, by the grace of God, after a deep postseason run — one of the most fascinating stories from it will be the saga of a young right-hander who was supposed to break out as a star, but didn’t.

Call it the Curious Case of Luis Severino.

Severino, 22 years old and the top pitching prospect in the organization, began spring training as the rotation’s No. 2 starter after a scintillating 2.89 ERA in 11 late-season games in 2015 as a rookie. He was great in nearly every Grapefruit League appearance, solidifying such plans. But then the regular season began, and so did his troubles, earning a 7.46 ERA in seven awful starts. He hit the disabled list with a triceps injury that served as a mental break as well.

The three months that followed were weird. He came back to the big leagues on July 27, pitched three times in relief, and didn’t allow a run in 8.1 innings. Great.

But then on August 9 and 14 he started, lasting just 4.1 and 3.2 innings, respectively, and was sent packing back to Triple-A after allowing 12 earned runs, told he needed to fine-tune his change-up. When this happened, he was upset, and told NJ Advance Media he didn’t understand the “purpose” of the demotion, comments that surely didn’t make his coaches or general manager happy.

When rosters expanded on September 1, Severino was brought back to the big leagues, and the plan for him once again was to pitch in relief, a guy who could pitch several innings in the middle of games.

He’s now done that three times, and just like it did in late July and early August, it’s gone great. This is his new role, one he’s going to have to grin and bear, at least for the next three weeks.

Severino’s latest appearance came Wednesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays in a 2-0 win at Yankee Stadium, the young righty dazzling for three innings to shut down one of the most potent offenses in baseball. He struck out three and allowed just one hit.

With that outing Severino’s now thrown six innings of relief since Sept. 2, no earned runs against.

“His mentality is a little bit different,” said Brian McCann of Severino throwing in relief. “I feel like he attacks a little bit more, and obviously with the velocity sitting there at 98, 9 (mph).”

Make no mistake, Severino still seems himself as a starter and said so on a handful of occasions after the game, but also conceded that these next few weeks in the bullpen might be just what he needs to figure out what will make him most effective as a pitcher in the big leagues.

“Of course,” Severino said of relief pitching. “I’m throwing a lot from the stretch, so when I’m starting and get into a tough situation, I’m going to be more comfortable.”

The Yankees, if you haven’t heard, are just 2.5 games back of a playoff spot, and after all his shuttling back and forth from starter to reliever, New York to Scranton, Severino has a chance to be one of the main arms manager Joe Girardi relies on in the next 25 games.

“He’s been great,” Girardi said.

Severino is most valuable to this team as a starter, but that’s 2017-talk. Right now he’s a bullpen arm, a piece of the puzzle as the Yankees try to plan for the future and slip into the playoffs after a 9-17 start that caused them to sell off their three best players five weeks ago.

“I had a tough year,” he said. “But right now, I’m forgetting about that.”

ake no mistake, Severino still seems himself as a starter and said so on a handful of occasions after the game, but also conceded that these next few weeks in the bullpen might be just what he needs to figure out what will make him most effective as a pitcher in the big leagues.

“Of course,” Severino said of relief pitching. “I’m throwing a lot from the stretch, so when I’m starting and get into a tough situation, I’m going to be more comfortable.”

The Yankees, if you haven’t heard, are just 2.5 games back of a playoff spot, and after all his shuttling back and forth from starter to reliever, New York to Scranton, Severino has a chance to be one of the main arms manager Joe Girardi relies on in the next 25 games.

“He’s been great,” Girardi said.

Severino is most valuable to this team as a starter, but that’s 2017-talk. Right now he’s a bullpen arm, a piece of the puzzle as the Yankees try to plan for the future and slip into the playoffs after a 9-17 start that caused them to sell off their three best players five weeks ago.

“I had a tough year,” he said. “But right now, I’m forgetting about that.”

ake no mistake, Severino still seems himself as a starter and said so on a handful of occasions after the game, but also conceded that these next few weeks in the bullpen might be just what he needs to figure out what will make him most effective as a pitcher in the big leagues.

“Of course,” Severino said of relief pitching. “I’m throwing a lot from the stretch, so when I’m starting and get into a tough situation, I’m going to be more comfortable.”

The Yankees, if you haven’t heard, are just 2.5 games back of a playoff spot, and after all his shuttling back and forth from starter to reliever, New York to Scranton, Severino has a chance to be one of the main arms manager Joe Girardi relies on in the next 25 games.

“He’s been great,” Girardi said.

Severino is most valuable to this team as a starter, but that’s 2017-talk. Right now he’s a bullpen arm, a piece of the puzzle as the Yankees try to plan for the future and slip into the playoffs after a 9-17 start that caused them to sell off their three best players five weeks ago.

“I had a tough year,” he said. “But right now, I’m forgetting about that.”

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