There is no hiding to the fact that Luis Severino has been downright frustrating to watch over the last month or so. His last 4 starts have been very un-Sevy like compiling an 8.84 ERA and giving up 7 HR’s in that span after giving up only 6 HR’s in his first 18 games started of the year. The recent struggles have seen his ERA jump to a season-high 2.94, which is still incredibly good, however that number was 1.98 before this stretch of bad Sevy.
There is a lot of talk out there surrounding why Severino is struggling from injury to tipping his pitches- I want to look into the numbers to see if I can uncover what has changed in July that has caused the headache for the Yankees ace.
In the first 18 games started of the year, Severino pitched 118.1 Innings with a 138/29 K/BB ratio which led to a 1.98/2.30/2.96 ERA/FIP/xFIP. The 6 HR’s he gave up in that span led to a 0.46 HR/9 matched by an excellent 6.3% HR/FB ratio. He carried a .272 BABIP during this 18 game stretch with an 82.6% LOB% (Left On Base %). All signs pointed to Sevy having the CY Young type season that we all knew he was capable of. What happened with the last 4 you ask?
In his last 4 starts, Severino has only pitched 19.1 Innings with a 19/4 K/BB ratio leading to a 8.84/6.68/4.01 ERA/FIP/xFIP. The 7 HR’s he’s given up during this recent stretch is good for a 3.26 HR/9 and 29.2% HR/FB ratio. Clearly, the long ball is a major cause for concern here, with 22.9% more fly balls being converted to HR’s than in his previous 18 games started. His BABIP has also ballooned to .433 during this 4 game stretch and in a corresponding move, his LOB% has dropped to 63.8% (18.8% difference from first 18 games).
Is it something with Severino’s pitch mix or velocity?
Verdict? Nothing major has really changed in Sevy’s last 4 starts in terms of pitch mix and velocity. The only thing that really jumps out her is that he is relying on the Slider a tad bit more than the Changeup as a secondary offering- but I doubt that is the main cause for the struggles.
What does the movement on his pitches tell us? Has anything changed?
From a horizontal movement perspective, it looks like Sevy was getting less movement than normal on his Slider and Changeup over the last 4 starts (7/7-7/28).
What stands out when looking at the vertical movement of Sevy’s pitches as of late? The Fastball and Changeup seem to look in line with the rest of the season in terms of Rise/Drop. The Slider here is what is concerning… As you can see at Severino’s best he was getting 2-3.5 inches of drop on his Slider. In the last 4 starts, he hasn’t average any more than 1.5 inches of drop on the offering. To the eye test as well it seems like his slider has definitely been flat as of late and if that pitch isn’t as effective than it only hurts the effectiveness of his Fastball and Changeup as well.
I don’t know much about Spin Angle but it seems that Severino’s Spin Rate on all 3 of his pitches is down slightly in his last 4 starts. This is definitely contributing in some way or form.
As we can see here there are a couple things that are concerning with the plate discipline over the last 4 games.
- Batters are making 11% more contact on pitches outside the strike zone
- Batters are making 5.4% more contact on pitches inside the strike zone
- Severino’s Swinging Strike % is down 2.7%
The lack of depth, movement and spin on Severino’s pitches over the last 4 starts seem to be the contributing factors in regards to his lack of swing and miss recently.
It seems as though most things are in line with Severino though and I don’t believe an injury is really in play here after extensive research. It seems that Severino needs to get in the film room with Rothschild and hash out some mechanical issues that are causing his Slider to flatten out and be much more hittable than in his first 18 starts of the season. There may also be some element of pitch tipping going on which I am not well-versed in analyzing and would take hours of film study to do so.
At the end of the day, I am confident that Severino can right the ship for the rest of the season. It seems that over the last 4 starts he has had a bit of diminished stuff as well as some bad luck on balls in play. The ineffectiveness of the Slider is causing his other pitches to play down. If he can get the spin rate and movement back up on his best secondary offering I think the results will follow.
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***Stats from Fangraphs.com, BrooksBaseball.net, pitchfx.texasleaguers.com