Luis Severino was a late scratch- about as late a scratch as I can recall in recent memory- in what was supposed to be his spring training debut on Tuesday, with what is being reported, after an MRI, as right rotator cuff inflammation.
The Yankees have said that he will be shut down for two weeks, then he will receive an injection to treat the injury, then progress from there. He will almost certainly begin the season on the IL.
Not good news, by any stretch. We have to consider ourselves, as Yankee fans, fortunate that it isn’t straight-up torn. I thought that everything being reported before the MRI results implied something much worse. Moreover, Severino reported the injury to the medical staff the moment he felt something wrong and did not throw another pitch.
It sounds like the best-case scenario for Sevy’s return is late mid-to-late April. There’s no reason to rush Severino back from a shoulder injury and risk further injury. I’d rather not have him until June or July, theoretically, than not have him for the playoff run or even mid-2020, and we’re supposed to have him by April or May, anyway.
There are a few things that need to be settled now that he is out. The less important but more fun one is the question of who will start on opening day.
The answer is almost certainly Paxton or Tanaka. This is a vanity thing anyway, so it doesn’t actually matter- Carl Pavano once started opening day for the Yankees, you might recall- but I guess I’d give Tanaka the nod, myself because he’s been here longer. Fair enough?
The other, more important, thing is who will fill in for Sevy in the rotation. Aaron Boone floated the idea that it would be Domingo German or Jonathan Loaisiga as the front-runners for the rotation spot. He kind of has to say that, even if they’re considering signing another pitcher, right?
For in-house candidates, I guess German would be my preferred option. I think Johnny Lasagna could benefit more from time in the minors, at this point, so we might as well roll with German, I’d say.
What about if Sevy is out longer, though?
I think they have to be truly considering outside options. The two big names available: Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez.
I think they should be and definitely were, considering them anyway before the Severino injury. The Yankees starting five is good, but the overall and MLB-ready depth is not anything to write home about, as far as potential for this season. It basically never happens that all five starters at the beginning of the year stay healthy, so it seemed like the plan was to bank on all five guys to stay healthy until either the trade deadline or until Jordan Montgomery returns and is back to being good. What were the odds that would have happened anyway?
Between Keuchel and Gonzalez, Keuchel is obviously the higher-ceiling guy. I don’t think either is a stud, but Keuchel could more easily regain his 2015 Cy Young form than Gonzalez would become a much better pitcher than he’s been over his career. Gonzalez has been a very solid pitcher, don’t get me wrong, and I like him, but Keuchel is more consistent at this point in his career, has the higher ceiling, and they are both lefties so there’s no preference for handedness there.
Gonzalez is the more obvious fit, though. Keuchel declined the qualifying offer so the Yankees would have to give up compensation picks and bonus money to the Astros if they opted for him. Gonzalez is also much more likely to accept a one-year deal and/or a bullpen role if the other five are all healthy, I believe. He also is not known for his facial hair so that would not be any sort of obstacle for a partnership between him and the Yankees.
I’d technically prefer Keuchel, but it’s not a huge difference to be between him and Gio, so I’d also be cool with signing Gonzalez if they go that route, which I would prefer to keeping it all in-house and opting for extra Domingo German starts.