NEW YORK — Luis Severino’s time with the New York Yankees may be over.
Manager Aaron Boone said that tests revealed a high-grade left oblique strain Saturday — a day after Severino said he felt “like somebody shot me” after he felt pain on the mound and immediately left the game.
“He’s done for the year,” Boone told reporters following a 9-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium.
The news put an even bigger damper on what was supposed to be a nice day in the Bronx for the Yankees. In the afternoon, the team used its Old Timer’s Day to honor the 25th anniversary of the 1998 Yankees who won an American League-record 114 regular season games and captured a World Series title.
But then intense rain and wind delayed the 2 p.m. start by two hours and 40 minutes. And then the Yankees’ bullpen fell apart following a solid five-inning, two-run showing from starting pitcher Mike King. It was the Yankees’ third loss in a row after they had won a season-high-tying five straight games.
“Definitely difficult,” Boone said, referring to Severino’s diagnosis.
An emotional Luis Severino describes the pain he felt on the mound: “I feel like somebody shot me.” pic.twitter.com/7XCvgPqnfF
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) September 9, 2023
With free agency looming, what may have been Severino’s final pitch with the Yankees was a 92-mph fastball that Milwaukee’s Bryce Turang hit for a single with no outs in the fifth inning Friday. After the pitch, Severino immediately dropped his glove and doubled over in pain. In a postgame interview, Severino said he felt a “deep, sharp pain” in his oblique — a pain that had followed him hours after the game.
Boone said the silver lining for Severino was that the injury wasn’t expected to disrupt his offseason preparation.
“So, that’s at least something,” Boone said. “Not an arm injury or anything like that. Hopefully he heals up and does what he needs to do to put himself in a good spot for next year.”
Right fielder Aaron Judge played for nine seasons with Severino in the Yankees’ organization, between the minors and the majors. He said it would be a “tough one” to figure out the right words to say to Severino, and he acknowledged that the Dominican Republic native might not be with the team next year.
“I really don’t know if I have the words just yet,” Judge said. “But I’ll find something.”
Severino wasn’t available to speak to reporters after Saturday’s loss.
On Saturday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and special assistant Omar Minaya were in attendance in Japan as Yoshinobu Yamamoto of the Orix Buffaloes threw a no-hitter. Yamamoto, 25, is expected to be posted this offseason.
Of course, it’s not a foregone conclusion that the Yankees won’t re-sign Severino. They know his medical history better than anyone, and Severino may prefer to stick around on a prove-it contract in 2024. A veteran National League scout who watched Severino on Friday speculated that he might need to take a one-year deal with incentives next year to prove that he can stay healthy for a full season.
Severino’s time with the Yankees burned bright early but quickly faded in a mass of injuries and disappointment.
Signed as a 16-year-old for $250,000 in 2011, he quickly became a prized prospect, ripping through the minor leagues and debuting his electric stuff in the majors at age 21 in 2015.
By 2017, he was an All-Star and he finished third in the American League Cy Young Award vote, going 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA in 31 starts. He followed that season with an equally superb 2018, once again making the All-Star Game and nabbing a ninth-place Cy Young Award finish by going 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 32 starts.
Sensing Severino could take a place atop the Yankees’ rotation for a long time, general manager Brian Cashman looked to fortify a core of youngsters, led by Judge. He agreed with Severino on a four-year, $40 million contract just minutes before their February 2019 arbitration hearing. The deal wound up a disaster.
Severino pitched in just 26 games over the length of the deal, dealing with a laundry list of injuries: rotator cuff inflammation, lat strain, Tommy John surgery, right groin strain and then another lat strain.
But in 2022, Severino’s 3.18 ERA in 19 games and flashes of his old brilliance convinced the Yankees to pick up his $15 million team option for the 2023 season. That, too, proved a mistake. He started the year on the injured list with yet another lat strain, needing until May 21 to make his first major-league start. Then he went 4-8 with a 7.98 ERA in 15 games (14 starts), at one point calling himself “the worst pitcher in the game.”
Severino seemed to be potentially turning a corner, however. Over his last four starts including Friday, he had a 2.49 ERA.
(Photo: Wendell Cruz / USA Today)