It's not often you can "call up" a 19-game winner and Cy Young finalist up to your 40-man roster. Call it a rare fortunate circumstance for the 2019 New York Yankees.
Luis Severino joined the Yankees earlier this week, finally making his debut after dealing with rotator cuff inflammation. He made a start on Tuesday night, going four shutout innings in an 8-0 victory that drew the Yankees to their final inches of collecting the A.L. East title. The Yankees have endured countless calamities during the 2019 season, most of them of the medical variety, yet are now proud owners of the A.L. East crown.
The last time Yankees fans saw Severino, it would be a story of sterling pitching or total chaos, with little to zero in-between. After action on July 1 last season, Severino was sporting a 1.98 ERA, but his campaign ended with that tally at 3.39. Over his final 14 starts, the supposed ace of the New York rotation had a 5.67 ERA. Almost appropriately, his year ended with a postseason shellacking, allowing the first six runs in what became a 16-1 defeat at the hands of the hated Boston Red Sox.
Yankees management, however, remains is confident that they'll get the shutdown Severino they've gotten used to seeing. Frankly...he'll have to be that guy.
New York received news bigger than baseball on Thursday, as Domingo German was placed on administrative leave for violation of domestic violence policies. The Yankees thus lose an 18-game winner that has been the most consistent starter in their rotation.
Dellin Betances, the hard-throwing reliever, was expected to join Severino back from the injured list. Join he did, earning two outs in two batters in a Sunday game against Toronto. Alas, he partially tore his left Achilles tendon, costing him any chance to contribute to a playoff run.
Thus, Severino will have to battle postseason demons to come up big for a squad that believes in him.
Hidden below sterling regular season stats are some garish Severino playoff numbers. His first appearance was the 2017 AL Wild Card game against Minnesota, where his bullpen had to put out a three-run fire set after just a third of an inning. He did recover throw seven strong in a crucial Game 4 against Cleveland in the ALDS, but more will be necessary if the Yankees are hoping to earn an elusive 28th title before the decade lets out.
The Yankees have their playoff spot more or less secured, and could well own homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. But, for one of their most important pieces, this remaining regular season could serve as the most vital games of his career.