So far, Luis Severino's big comeback has gone pretty well. The Yankees starter has limited the Red Sox and Blue Jays to two runs in eight innings across his first two starts, with 11 strikeouts (31.4% K rate) to just two walks. He was especially impressive Thursday against the Blue Jays, as he racked up 15 swinging strikes on his 83 pitches – including four swinging strikes and three strikeouts of Vladimir Guerrero, who homered three times the previous night. 

Severino has averaged 97.6 mph with his fastball through his two starts, exactly what he averaged back in 2018, the last time he was healthy enough to pitch a full season. He was a Fantasy star that season, racking up 220 strikeouts in 191.1 innings with a 3.39 ERA and 1.145 WHIP, good for the 10th-best starting pitcher in Rotisserie leagues.

So, Severino is back, right? Well, what's interesting about what we've seen from Severino so far is he doesn't necessarily look like the same pitcher he once was. Back before his elbow and shoulder injuries derailed the past three seasons, Severino was primarily a fastball/slider pitcher; he threw the heat 50.5% of the time in 2018 and his slider 36% of the time. That was his go-to putaway pitch, and it was pretty terrific – a 37.3% whiff rate and .222 expected wOBA allowed, per StatCast data from Baseball Savant. Per Pitch Values on Fangraphs, Severino's slider was the seventh-most valuable in the league that season. 

And he's basically stopped throwing it so far. It's only two starts, but Severino has thrown just 10 sliders total, a 6.8% usage rate. His changeup, which he threw just 13.6% of the time in 2017 and 2018, has been his second-most used pitch so far, with a 27.0% rate. And he's gotten good results from it, with six of his 11 strikeouts coming with the changeup and no hits allowed on 10 plate appearances ending with the pitch. 

But what might be even more interesting is what else Severino has replaced the slider with: a brand-new cutter. Severino has thrown that pitch 20.3% of the time, and he's throwing it harder than he ever threw his slider, with an average velocity of 91.2 mph (the slider was at 88.1 mph in 2018). Severino has also taken a bit off of the rare sliders he has thrown, with an average velocity of 86.0 mph, giving him two distinct arm-side breaking pitches, one with more horizontal movement, one with more sink. You can see the cutter here from his first start: 

It's an interesting development for Severino, and it's fair to wonder if it's in response to the injuries he's dealt with. Perhaps the cutter simply puts less strain on his elbow and shoulder when he's throwing it than the slider, which would be a pretty good reason to make the change alone, though that is speculation. 

The more interesting question for Fantasy purposes is whether this change is likely to make Severino as effective as he was. It's too early to say for sure one way or the other. The cutter has been a very good pitch for Severino, generating a 60% whiff rate and weak contact, but the sample sizes were dealing with are still tiny; three batted balls and 30 cutters, total. Cutters generally generate fewer swings and misses than sliders, so it would be fair to assume we'll likely see similar trends from Severino's – that his usage of the slider has risen while his cutter usage has dipped in two-strike counts so far suggests it's not an unreasonable assumption, as well. 

The cutter/slider switch is going to play a big part in Severino's effectiveness, but the increased confidence in the changeup might be an even bigger deal. He closed out his night with a wicked changeup, which he threw after failing to get Guerrero to bite on an 0-2 slider in the dirt: 

He's thrown the changeup 34% of the time with two strikes so far, a rate that was just 10.7% in 2018. And that's with just 11 of his 35 batters faced having been left-handed so far; his changeup usage might be even higher if he had faced more lefties. Still, he's thrown the changeup 21.1% of the time against right-handed hitters, so while it's been his third pitch after the four-seamer and the cutter, he's still thrown it almost twice as often vs. RHB than he did in 2018, when his usage rate was 11.4%. It sure seems like he's more confident in that pitch than ever before, and his velocity on the pitch is up 2.4 mph from 2018 without sacrificing much in the way of either vertical or horizontal movement, which kind of seems unfair. 

So far, the early returns on Severino's new pitch mix are quite promising. He has given up just three hits on 20 at-bats ending with either the changeup, cutter, or slider, compared to four in 12 with the fastball. As stated before, we're still dealing with quite small sample sizes in the early going, and it's entirely possible Severino will tweak his pitch mix as he continues to build up. Or maybe he keeps the slider as more of a two-strike weapon, throwing it only in higher leverage situations. 

Either way, the cutter and changeup both pass the eye test, in addition to garnering promising results in the early going. This isn't necessarily the same Luis Severino we've seen throughout his career – and, obviously, his recent injury track record hangs over every conversation about how good he can be moving forward. However, despite the changes he's made, the total package still looks good. I'm feeling more confident in Severino now than I was coming into the season, which is just about all you can ask after two starts.