BOSTON – Luis Severino smiled as he began to answer the question, which was:
What do you like about getting out of the bullpen?
“I really do not like the bullpen,” Severino said Saturday. . . after coming out of the bullpen and hitting four in two scoreless innings in the Yankees’ 5-3 win over the Red Sox.
Severino, who recently returned from the list of injured after recovering from the Tommy John operation he underwent in February 2020, is currently repeating the bullfighting role he filled for Joe Girardi in September 2016.
So 22, Severino – who due to poor performance and then injury lost his rotation space – put up a 0.39 ERA in 11 relief appearances, allowing eight hits in 23 1/3 innings.
There was a presumption – though never from the Yankees – about Severino, then unproven as a starter, possibly a better fit as a relief.
“You have to be patient. He just needs to get out of college is the bottom line,” Girardi said in the spring training of 2017. “We still imagine him as a starter. There’s nothing that tells us he’s not.”
Severino won his starting job back in spring training that year, going 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA that earned the first of back-to-back All-Star bids. He was 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 2018.
Now 27, he is only seen as a starter but is nowhere near extensive enough to start. Nevertheless, he could be a critical arm for Aaron Boone in the final week of the season.
Boone’s bullpen too late has been held together with lifeline and duct tape, so the more quality arms the better, and Severino showed on Saturday that his arm appears to have plenty in it.
With his 97km / h fastball and an ugly change that has been underway, Severino kept the Yankees, who were trailing 2-1, in the game. After hitting Bobby Dalbec out on a slider to start the seventh, he passed Kevin Plawecki. Severino made Jose Iglesias jump into a forceout, after which he beat Kike Hernandez swinging at a shift.
It kept the Yankees within striking distance and Giancarlo Stanton struck in eighth and hit a grand slam that gave a 5-2 lead.
Severino came back in the bottom half and knocked out Hunter Renfroe with a 97 mph heater before hitting Rafael Devers. Xander Bogaerts flew out to the left and Severino beat JD Martinez swinging at a shift to complete the shutdown inning.
“It was amazing. It was great, man,” Boone said. “Two innings there, also ends up going through their big boys. Just a good job of him. Seems he threw the ball really well … You can see he enjoyed being out there in this kind of atmosphere and this kind of play with a lot on the line. Another big step for him in coming back. “
It had been a long road back for Severino, who twice during the summer was on his way to return but suffered adversity. A groin injury in June delayed his comeback and tightness in his right shoulder in August further delayed him.
He finally returned last Tuesday and put up two innings against the Rangers. He has struck out six, allowed two strokes and hiked one out of four goalless innings.
Getting out of the bullpen is only part of Severino’s present, and the expectation is that he will once again be a rotation class in 2022.
Which does not mean that he does not see a value in what he can deliver in an emergency relief role.
“I love to start, but right now [this is] the situation, “Severino said.” Bullpen all year has been the key for this team, and to be there with these guys and try to help the team. . . It’s great to be able to get through in big situations. “
And this week, there will likely be more of them.
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