The Yankees need good starting pitching if they’re going to experience success in October. The absence of Domingo German means the team needs Luis Severino.
Domingo German has been the Yankees’ most reliable starting pitcher on the mound during the regular season. His issues off the diamond will force New York to rely on a pitcher who has only made one start to carry them in the postseason.
On Thursday, the Yankees placed German on administrative leave under the MLB’s policy on domestic violence. That clearly puts his status for the postseason in serious jeopardy. It’s unclear whether or not the Yankees and the league will even be able to evaluate his case before the end of the regular season.
It was always going to be risky for the Yankees to count on German as their postseason ace given his lack of proven success in the playoffs. Even so, he was certainly going to be a part of Aaron Boone’s postseason rotation. In all likelihood, his spot will now go to Luis Severino instead.
Severino, of course, has pitched a grand total of four Major League innings on the year. He flashed quality stuff in his start against the Angels this week, but team officials aren’t sure how much he can build up his arm before the playoffs begin. The original plan by the organization seemed to be to use Severino as a sort of opener or short reliever in high leverage situations.
That plan is out the window now. James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka can be relied upon to start playoff games, but the third spot now should go to Severino. He’s not going to throw 120 pitches to get the Yankees into the seventh or eighth inning, but he can build up to around 100 pitches. The Yankees plan will be to use Severino to get them into the fifth inning or so. From that point, the team’s talented bullpen can be called upon to silence opposing hitters the rest of the way.
Trusting Severino that much is going to take a calculated leap of faith by Boone and everyone in the Yankees organization. He was always going to be a factor in the organization’s playoff plans, but his role will be increased significantly due to German’s absence. The team has shown remarkable depth all season long, but Severino’s ability to step up and fill German’s shoes might be the team’s biggest challenge of the year.