Yankees cannot afford to lose Luis Severino before Opening Day

The Yankees have a strong pitching rotation on paper, but losing Luis Severino to his most recent injury could derail New York’s season before it begins.

Signing Gerrit Cole to a massive contract in free agency was supposed to fortify the Yankees’ starting rotation. Unfortunately, injuries and suspension have already placed the immediate future of three projected members of that rotation in serious jeopardy.

The Yankees already know James Paxton and Domingo German won’t be available on Opening Day. Paxton recently underwent back surgery to remove a cyst. His projected recovery time is somewhere between three and four months if all goes according to plan. That obviously will prevent him from starting the season on the active roster.

German isn’t injured, but his lengthy domestic abuse suspension will prevent him from making an impact in the Bronx for quite some time. He will miss the first 63 games of the regular season as a result of his misconduct.

The most recent bad news to hit the Yankees is that Luis Severino is already experiencing discomfort in his forearm. The team’s general manager, Brian Cashman, openly admits that the issue could be “significant.” The team can ill afford to lose such a talented starting pitcher for any meaningful length of time.

Severino suffering an injury so early in Spring Training is particularly concerning given his trouble staying on the diamond last year. He missed a large portion of the regular season after suffering an injury in spring training a year ago. His current ailment reportedly dates all the way back to Severino’s final start of 2019 against the Astros in the ALCS. The fact that he’s undergone multiple MRIs and still hasn’t found a resolution to his ailment is troubling for team officials.

Predictably, the Yankees are going to exercise extreme caution with Severino before the regular season begins. He won’t step onto a mound again until his body feels 100 percent. The natural question becomes whether or not that can happen before Opening Day arrives.

The Yankees hope that rest can solve whatever bothers their star right hander, but if surgery is required this could easily turn into another long-term absence for manager Aaron Boone to deal with.

All of these injuries just heap more pressure on Cole to pitch like a bona fide ace right from day one in the Bronx. If the Yankees are forced to spend a large chunk of the season without Paxton and Severino, it may take a heroic effort from Cole to keep them in the hunt for another AL East crown.

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