The 26-year-old pitcher Tommy John have surgery,that’s likely keeping him out until the beginning of next season. The injury is a big blow to the Yankees’ pitching staff.
TAMPA, Fla. — Last February, the Yankees gave one of their homegrown talents, Luis Severino, a four-year contract extension worth $40 million, locking up one of the best young pitchers in baseball at an reasonable rate before free agency.
A year later, it appears the Yankees might be lucky to get a season and a half out of Severino over the length of that extension. On Tuesday, Severino learned that he would require Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm, a significant blow to the rotation of a team with hopes of a World Series title this year. He will miss the rest of the 2020 season and likely some of the 2021 season.
“I am extremely disappointed that I will not be able to put on a Yankees uniform and compete with my teammates this year,” Severino said in a statement on Tuesday, “but I promise that I will be working tirelessly during this process to come back stronger than ever to make the greatest fans in baseball proud.”
Severino had been struggling with broken soreness in his right forearm since October, when he started against the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. It disappeared quickly and he was cleared to start again if needed later that round.
After resting and taking some medication, Severino was throwing in spring training at the team’s facility in Tampa, Fla., without any alarm — until he tried his changeup last week and the discomfort returned. It was puzzling to Severino, he said, because he had no problems throwing his other pitches.
Still, the Yankees shut Severino down and sent him to New York, yet again, on Sunday night for three days of testing with their doctors and specialists.
This time they gave Severino an M.R.I. with dye contrast, which requires the injection of a chemical substance that improves the quality of the images. From that examination, Dr. Christopher Ahmad, the Yankees’ head physician, and Dr. David Altchek, who provided a second opinion, determined that Severino needed Tommy John surgery for a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman told reporters on Tuesday that he believed Severino’s injury had originated during the A.L.C.S. He said Severino’s discomfort wasn’t near the damaged ligament, and that none of the athletic trainers, physical therapists and doctors that had examined him in Tampa or New York previously could find any ligament problems until Tuesday.
“I don’t want to sugarcoat the fact that being without Sevy, that’s a blow,” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone told reporters after the team’s spring training game in Dunedin, Fla. “But it doesn’t change our expectations and what we’re truly capable of. No, nothing changes.”
The Yankees had been counting on Severino to help form a stout rotation this year, along with Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ. To shore up their rotation, which was arguably their biggest weakness last season, the Yankees signed Cole to a record nine-year, $324 million deal this off-season.
Last season, Severino made only three regular-season starts, plus two more in the postseason, because of a shoulder ailment and a mysterious latissimus dorsi injury. Still, the Yankees won 103 games without Severino (or Cole) thanks to their depth, which again will be tested.
Paxton is out until about May because of a lower back operation he had on Feb. 5. A typical recovery from Tommy John surgery lasts 12 to 15 months, so Severino might miss some of next season, too.
In the meantime, Jordan Montgomery, in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, is likely to fill one rotation spot. The other could go to an unproven youngster such as Deivi Garcia, Jonathan Loaisiga, Michael King or Clarke Schmidt until the return of Paxton or Domingo German, who will miss the first 63 games of the season because of his suspension for violating M.L.B.’s domestic violence policy.
The injuries to Severino, Paxton and outfielder Aaron Judge (whose spring training has been delayed by right shoulder soreness) may feel like a cruel reminder of 2019. Last season, the Yankees set a major league record, with 30 different players landing on the injured list. As a result, they restructured their player health and performance staff, bringing in new experts from outside the organization and shifting around some on the inside.