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Tied To Severino

One of the Mets biggest(!?!) free agent acquisitions is also one of their riskiest.

Back in late November when the Mets signed free agent pitcher Luis Severino, I texted a couple friends with the info. It was the first real Mets news of the offseason and was a seemingly welcome break from trading YouTube videos of Ellis Valentine’s throwing arm. (Side note – if you haven’t watched Valentine throw, I strongly recommend searching some clips.) The first response I got was “Ooof” and that was a fairly logical, albeit succinct, reaction. As appropriate as that may have been, after some further thought, it’s possible the deal may not automatically be “Ooof”-worthy.

In 2017, Luis Severino had a really good season – 14 wins, an ERA under 3 (2.98), 230 K’s and only 51 walks in 193.1 innings, and he finished 3rd in AL Cy Young Award voting. Also, in 2017, my oldest daughter turned 9. She turns 16 this year. In other words, 2017 was a long time ago. Severino’s 2018 was pretty good, ultimately culminating in a top-10 finish in that season’s AL Cy Young Award voting. Then the injuries hit, and eventually, so did the opposition. 

In 2019, Severino missed the beginning of the season with rotator cuff inflammation. He then missed most of the rest of the season with a Grade 2 lat strain. In early 2020, Severino underwent Tommy John surgery, which would force him to miss the “entire” (COVID-shortened) season and the beginning of 2021. A groin injury during his 2021 rehab kept him out of the majors until September. So, from 2019-2021, Severino pitched a total of 18 innings in the majors. They were good innings though – 25 K’s, only 2 earned runs. 

In 2022, Severino missed a couple months with another lat strain (another strain, not sure if it was another lat). When he did pitch, he still looked like Severino, for the most part, and offered enough hope that he could still be a valuable member of the rotation. Then 2023 happened. Severino started only 18 games and once again had a season shortened by an injury, this time a high-grade oblique strain. It was the only high grade he earned all season. His 4-8 record and 6.65 ERA tell just part of the story. His 1.64 WHIP says much more, and the 23 home runs given up in only 89.1 innings makes for an unfortunate denouement

So, why would the Mets give this guy a shot? It’s been years since he pitched a full season. His results last season matched Carlos Carrasco’s output. If they were going to miss Carrasco that much, why didn’t they just re-sign him? Apparently, the Mets believe that Severino was tipping his pitches last season which contributed significantly to his ugly stats. They also believed that the promise he showed early in his career was still attainable. They believed all this enough that they were willing to invest in proving it. 

At one point early in his career, Luis Severino was compared to Jacob deGrom, with some even remarking that he had the potential (aka “stuff”) to be better. Since that time, they’ve only resembled each other when it comes to time spent on the injured list. Still, back in late November, this seemed like a reasonable risk to take. Now, with an otherwise uninspiring offseason, and with Kodai Senga’s recent injury, the Mets are going to need to be right about Severino, and he’s going to need to be what he once was. If that does come through, the Mets might have something going for them, and Severino might just prove to be the steal of the winter.

At least until he gets hurt again.