The Yankees have activated right-hander Luis Severino from the 15-day IL, the team announced. The move corresponds with last night’s announcement that right-hander Jhony Brito had been optioned to Triple-A. Severino is set to start against the Reds this morning.
The 29-year-old Severino has immense talent, as shown by a 3.18 ERA, a 3.01 FIP, and 11 fWAR accumulated between 2018 and 2019. Unfortunately, Severino has struggled with his health since the end of the 2019 season, having thrown just 120 innings since then. 102 of those innings came last season, his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. While Severino was effective in his return from surgery, with a 3.18 ERA and 3.70 FIP, he continued to battle injuries last season as a lat strain caused him to miss two months of the 2022 campaign. While Severino appeared to be healthy headed into the spring, the right-hander suffered another lat strain just before Opening Day, leaving him to make his 2023 regular season debut nearly two months into the season.
Severino’s return is a breath of fresh air for a Yankees rotation that has struggled to find production outside of ace Gerrit Cole. Both Carlos Rodon and Frankie Montas have yet to throw a pitch for the Yankees this year, while Nestor Cortes has joined youngsters Clarke Schmidt and Brito in struggling to ERAs over 5.00 so far this season. Right-hander Domingo German has been solid, with a 3.75 ERA over nine starts, but was recently suspended for violating the league’s foreign substance policy.
Additionally, Severino’s contract expires at the end of this season, making his 2023 performance the platform on which he’ll build his case to potential suitors in free agency after the season ends. The 2023 free agent class, headlined by two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, figures to be fairly deep in terms of pitching, with the likes of Sonny Gray, Julio Urias, Lucas Giolito, and Aaron Nola among those expected to hit the market following the current campaign.
With Severino back in action, Brito will head to Triple-A with a 5.58 ERA and 5.56 FIP in 40 1/3 innings of work so far in 2023. Brito mostly struggled in his time with the major league club, striking out just 16.9% of batters while walking 10.1%. The walk rate is of particular concern, given Brito’s ability to avoid the free pass in the minor leagues, with a 7.7% rate in 112 2/3 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A last year standing as his highest mark in a season coming into 2023. Even in spite of his struggles, Brito figures to continue to provide depth to the Yankees rotation when necessary throughout the season.