Here we are in the most boring part of the offseason where the MLB offseason is mostly wrapped up, hockey and basketball are still months away from the playoffs, and after this Sunday we won’t even have football to pass our weekends with. It can get pretty boring this time of the year, but something caught my eye while reading through one of the many uneventful January articles — Luis Severino, the one-time top pitching prospect in the Yankees organization, has been working with Pedro Martinez, the one-time hated rival of the Yankees, this offseason.
Severino and Martinez worked together for a few days.
“We focused on mechanics,” Severino said. “That’s something Larry told me to do. My mechanics, my release point — trying to fix it all.”
“I’m doing very well,” he said. “I’ve been throwing my bullpen and my changeup is way better than last year. My fastball location is better, too. So hopefully in spring training it’ll be good.”
Recently, general manager Brian Cashman said the Yankees told Severino to improve his flexibility because he might have been too muscular last season.
“I’m little skinnier,” he said. “I dropped like 10 pounds. We’ve been working on that, just in the gym and keeping a smart diet.”
ICYMI, Severino was once ranked as the No. 23rd best prospect in baseball by MLB.com prior to the 2015 season. That year, he tore up the minors and then posted a 2.89 ERA with a 8.1 K/9 and a 3.2 BB/9 in 11 games as a rookie in the majors. Unfortunately, Severino’s sophomore year wasn’t as impressive as he struggled mightily in the majors and posted a 7.46 ERA in his first seven starts and an 8.50 ERA as a starter overall. He did end up having some success as a reliever, but, considering the state of the Yankees rotation, it was still a incredibly disappointing season.
A big part of Severino’s problem was that he struggled with control of his fastball and slider and his changeup was a complete mess. In the article, Severino explains how his arm slot was different which lead to many of those problems.
Working with Pedro isn’t going to magically fix any of his problems, but if he can’t then I’m not sure that anyone can. Pedro was a machine who had a fastball like Roger Clemens despite a slight 5-foot-11 frame. His mechanics were perfect. His changeup was also his bread-and-butter pitch. Yes, he could throw his fastball in the upper-90s, but it was that changeup that made hitters look silly night in and night out. Again, if Pedro can’t help Severino with his changeup than I’m not sure that there is somebody out there who can.
Despite Severino’s success out of the bullpen last year, where he had a 0.39 ERA in 11 appearances, the Yankees are sticking with him as a starter. GM Brian Cashman even said that if Severino doesn’t win a rotation spot out of spring training that the Yankees will send him to Triple-A to continue to work as a starter. But if he’s going to have success as a starter, he’s going to have to learn to control his release point and throw a better and more consistent changeup. Thanks to Hall of Famer, and former Yankee head hunter, Pedro Martinez, Severino at least has a great teacher.