Yankees right-hander has struggled as a starter this season
By Joshua Needelman
NEW YORK -- After the Yankees' 12-3 loss to the Rays on Sunday afternoon, the team optioned Luis Severino to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre.
The right-hander lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his ninth start of the season, as Tampa Bay pounced on him for seven earned runs on eight hits and a walk. The demotion marked the latest letdown for Severino in a season during which he's bounced between Triple-A and the Major Leagues. Manager Joe Girardi, though, maintains confidence that the 22-year-old can turn things around.
After a rough outing in his return to the starting rotation last Tuesday, Severino was optioned to Triple-A the following day. With the Yankees placing Nathan Eovaldi on the disabled list, Severino was recalled Friday to make Sunday's start.
"It's frustrating to get sent up and down. But, to be really successful at this level, you have to have a lot of mental toughness," Girardi said. "If you're not able to fight through adversity, you're going to be an up-and-down player, because you're going to go through it in the course of a game. Maybe you don't get a call, maybe a play's not made."
Before the game, the Yankees held a special ceremony in honor of Mariano Rivera getting a plaque in Monument Park. Rivera, it was pointed out to Girardi, initially struggled as a starter, similar to Severino, before moving to the bullpen.
"I think it's obviously way too early to determine he's not a starter. But that third pitch is really important if you're going to become a starter," Girardi said.
That third pitch is his changeup. While Girardi commended Severino's fastball and slider, the changeup has lagged behind. It proved especially detrimental against the Rays. Severino relied heavily on his fastball and slider in the fourth, when the Rays chased him from the game. He threw 18 pitches in the frame. None of them were changeups.
"[This season]'s been tough," Severino said. "A lot of players have been through this. Just adjust and keep working."
Girardi agreed, insisting that Severino is talented enough to pitch in the Majors. After all, he struck out seven batters in his brief outing. But for now, the Yankees believe there is work to be done.
"He's really young. He hasn't had a ton of reps in a sense. This is not a guy that's thrown a ton of innings in the Minor Leagues," Girardi said. "It's a process. And it's trying to improve him, and we'll do that."
Joshua Needelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.