In 2015, at the age of 21, Luis Severino’s big league future was bright.
His midseason call-up that year was remarkable, giving Yankees fans hopes that the failures of pitching phenoms of years past was starting to turn. He went 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA over 11 starts, which included a very tidy 1.20 WHIP.
In 2016, Severino broke camp in the starting rotation, but after going 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA, he was sent down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at the end of May.
When he returned, he was a reliever and pitching measurably better. So like many, I believed that — even at 22 — maybe his future would be in the bullpen.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi wasn’t sure either, telling the New York Post’s Larry Brooks the jury was out on Severino following the right-hander’s abbreviated final start of 2016, in which he lasted just 3 2-3 innings, allowing three runs and five hits. “I think that’s going to be a topic of conversation over the winter, I do,” said Girardi. “I’m sure it will be talked about at the table.”
I didn’t go as far as Brooks, who wrote: “Luis Severino, meet Joba Chamberlain.”
Boy, Yankees fans must be glad that table talk — and Brooks’ prediction — went the opposite way.
Severino’s 2017 season — 14-5 with a 2.98 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP over 31 starts — was a major reason for the Yankees wildcard berth. Even that wildcard game disaster — in which he allowed three first inning runs and was yanked before the Yankees rallied to beat the Minnesota Twins — seems like ages ago.
In his last start, a Game 2, 2-1 loss at Houston, Girardi took out Severino after four innings, fearing that the youngster had a weary shoulder. However, Severino has a clean bill of health going into the Friday night rematch with Justin Verlander, and if his manager lets him, the kid would like to duplicate the complete game masterpiece Verlander tossed in Game 2.
“I feel strong. My bullpen was great. My changeup was good. My fastball was great. I have to say that I feel great right now,’’ said Severino.
What a difference a year makes.