The New York Yankees will have a familiar face on hand on Monday night when they take on the Texas Rangers. Right-hander Luis Severino, who hasn't thrown a big-league pitch since the 2019 season, was activated prior to Monday's series opener. (Right-hander Sal Romano was released from the roster in a corresponding move.)
Severino, 27, has missed the past year-plus recovering from Tommy John surgery. Add in a prolonged absence during the 2019 season because of shoulder woes, and he's made all of three regular-season appearances since finishing ninth in Cy Young Award balloting back in 2018. Indeed, his most recent regular-season appearance occurred on September 28, 2019, or nearly two years ago.
The Yankees appear to view Severino as a bullpen option for the rest of this season. "His last live outing was two [innings] and 35 [pitches]," manager Aaron Boone explained to the New York Post over the weekend, "so kind of view him as anything from an inning in some situations to possibly two- or three-innings scenarios that I think he'll be able to handle."
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When Severino has been healthy, he's been one of the better pitchers in the league. In 99 career appearances (88 of them starts) he has compiled a 3.46 ERA (125 ERA+) and a 3.93 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Severino was particularly brilliant in 2017-18, when he amassed a 3.18 ERA (137 ERA+) and a 4.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 63 starts. He received Cy Young Award consideration in both of those seasons.
The Yankees need the help, as they're currently without Jonathan Loáisiga and Zack Britton, who is expected to miss the next year-plus himself after undergoing his own elbow surgery. New York entered Monday with an 83-67 record on the season, putting them 1 1/2 games back of the Toronto Blue Jays for the American League's second wild card spot.
The Yankees are also 2 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox, the AL's top wild card holder. That's notable because six of the Yankees' 12 remaining games will come against either the Blue Jays or Red Sox, providing them with ample opportunity to make up the necessary distance.