The best thing you can say about Luis Severino’s past two starts is neither occurred when a promotional bobblehead was given out to fans attending the game because who knows how many would have actually held on to the item.
In all seriousness though, Severino is in a rough patch not seen around him since his 2016 season when he was so ineffective early that following a recovery from a triceps injury and demotion to the minor leagues, the Yankees moved him to the bullpen.
No talk about moving him to the bullpen has emerged but the more you see pitching lines like seven runs and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings, the narrative of pulling him for a few turns from the rotation persists.
In the meantime, the Yankees will use the extra time provided by the All-Star break to see if they can figure out things like an ineffective fastball that generated only three swings and misses and was fouled off 10 times during a 14-1 loss to the exciting upstart Orioles, who easily could have scored 20 times if they did not strand 15 runners.
“I know the kind of pitcher that I am. I’m really not being myself,” Severino said. “I’ve never been this bad of a pitcher in my whole life. It’s just tough to get my head around.”
There are not any indications of a physical problem, which is natural to think since Severino missed the first seven-plus weeks with a strained lat after missing two months last season with the same injury.
If it’s not physical, perhaps it’s the stuff. Other than six scoreless innings in a 1-0 win over Texas June 24, it is an extremely rough patch for Severino, especially with numbers of 40 runs (35 earned) in 42 2/3 innings (7.38 ERA). Compared to last year, Severino gave up just 37 runs (36 earned) in 102 innings (3.18 ERA).
“There’s been a couple of outings where I felt like his stuff was a little short, a little flat,” Boone said. “In a lot of them when he’s gotten hit, there’s execution problems — pitches in the heart of the plate, not necessarily being sharp with all three of his pitches on a given day. It’s probably been a little bit of everything.”
From the outset it was apparent Severino was laboring. He allowed a leadoff homer to Gunnar Henderson and needed 26 pitches in the first inning. Then he was up to 56 pitches through two and once he gave up three hits in a four-pitch span, it was apparent where this was headed.
Presently, Severino is the most ineffective Yankee starter. Behind Gerrit Cole, there is the looming debut of Carlos Rodon, Domingo German being effective enough to throw an unlikely perfect game, Clarke Schmidt showing enough promise as a starter after a rough opening few weeks and decent enough outings from the fill-ins while they wait for Nestor Cortes to return from the injured list.
And the more Severino struggles, the possibility increases even more about the Yankees not re-signing when his four-year contract expires in the offseason. It was a contract based on his standout 2017 and 2018 seasons when it appeared Severino was going to assume the role of Yankee ace.
Then came the rash of injuries and now Severino and the Yankees left going back to the drawing board to figure out why his fastball had little zip or little finish or why his slider was virtually non-existent.
Until things can be figured out, Severino’s advanced numbers might continue to be the worst of his career. After getting shelled by the Orioles, he is allowing career highs in exit velocity (90.2), expected batting average (.303), hard-hit rate (45.5 percent) and a career-low 18 percent strikeout rate.
“No fun to go through,” Boone said in summing up a disaster for Severino.
And it is nowhere near as fun for Severino when he picked up 33 of his 51 career wins in 2017 and 2018 as the Yankees won a combined 191 games.