Posted on September 12, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

New York Yankees Luis Severino
Image via si.com

It’s taken over five months, but Luis Severino is finally ready to make his 2019 debut for the New York Yankees. The club announced Thursday that Severino will make his first start of the season next Tuesday when the team hosts the Angels. Severino’s start to the season, while belated, could have a significant impact on the Yankees and their chances to win the World Series.

The Yankees lost Severino to a rotator cuff injury in the middle of March, delaying the start of his season. Less than a month later, the club revealed that Severino was also dealing with a Grade 2 lat strain, further delaying his return. Obviously, the Yankees would have preferred to have him back sooner than the middle of September. But they’ve survived without him and are getting him back in time for him to be a difference maker.

“No question we’re excited to get him back,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “I feel like he’s been in a pretty good place physically now for a couple of months and building really good momentum. I feel like his progression has gone really smooth. He could be a game-changer guy for us, there’s no question.”

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Severino has been New York’s best starter the last two seasons, going 33-14 over 63 starts, posting a 2.98 ERA in 2017 and a 3.39 ERA in 2018. If he can pitch anywhere near that level the rest of the season, Severino could be the team’s ace as the Yankees head into the postseason. New York’s rotation has been uneven at times this year, but Severino’s presence could stabilize things and give the Yankees a lot more depth when October rolls around.

After making just two rehab starts in the minors, Severino isn’t yet stretched out yet. However, the Yankees expect him to have enough time to make three starts before the end of the regular season. The hope is that will be enough time for Severino to increase his pitch count and start pitching at a high level before the postseason gets underway.

“He’s not far off at all,” Boone said after Severino’s most recent rehab appearance. “Now it’s just a matter of getting real sharp, but I think you can tell that he feels good. The stuff is there. Now it’s just getting real sharp with it and getting that consistency. When we know that he has that, then he can go out and dominate.”

It’s also worth noting that Severino may not be the only pitchers the Yankees get back in September. Jordan Montgomery and Dellin Betances, who have both sat out all of 2019, are also on the road back to the majors. Betances, in particular, could be huge in the back end of New York’s bullpen. Montgomery, meanwhile, could add more depth to the rotation and allow the Yankees to piggyback their starters in the postseason.

Of course, it’s tough to assume that injured players who have missed the entire season will come back at their best late in the year. But the Yankees know what Severino and Betances can do at their best. The Yankees are poised to win the AL East without any contributions from those two. But to win a World Series, they might need them. The mere possibility of having Severino and Betances back from injury should give the Yankees a lift with the postseason approaching.

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