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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Luis Severino: now the Yankees face the innings limit for a young star pitcher in a pennant race.

A couple of years ago melodrama engulfed the Mets concerning protecting star pitcher Matt Harvey, whose situation was complicated by prior surgery and animus towards his agent, Scott Boras. Should the Mets shut down Harvey as the contending Washington Nationals had done a couple of years before with Stephen Strasburg or let Harvey pitch through the regular season and then on into the tournament?

The young Met rotation seemed like it would be dominant in 2017 but the Mets have had a lot of injuries to their starting pitchers.

Now it may be the Yankees taking a turn with this issue. Dealing with this relatively new problem is fairly easy when your team is not in contention. But the Yankees are now in first place and expected to push hard into the tournament.

Brian Cashman got Sonny Gray instead of Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana. Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Luis Severino is the best young starting pitcher on the Yankees. Credit Cashman. But as far as Cashman adding starters Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia at the trading deadline, that's mainly for a stretch run now in 2017. Gray is under club control for a couple of more years but Cashman wants to make a drive in the 2017 tournament.

Severino was born: February 20, 1994 (Age: 23 and 162 days). Here are his innings, both minor and major:
2012 64
2013 44
2014 113
2015 (99+62) 161
2016 (80+71) 151
2017 133

For the 2017 regular season Severino projects to throw another 67 innings for a total of 200. That's 33% more than the previous year. So how far can Severino reasonably be expected to go in the tournament, if at all? Say what? The Yankees might shut down Severino? That would be the responsible thing to do. So then what's the fuss about Garcia and Gray? Beats me ... on multiple levels.
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Most Yankee fans have not even addressed this. Today General Manager Brian Cashman agreed with his field manager Joe Girardi that the Yankees would not use a six man rotation. Well, then Severino will be stressed like never before.

It's especially a problem if Masahiro Tanaka does not regain his consistency and become the number one Yankee pitcher down the stretch. Maybe newly acquired Sonny Gray will take over. But if Severino must be number one, then he will be pitching in unfamiliar innings.

The solution is obvious but so far no team has been willing to embrace it. Have young starting pitchers rotate based on months. For instance, have some start the season with the intent that they will be shut down after four months. Have others start their season June 1 and pitch into the tournament. Simple, right? And logical.

But what passes for decision makers refuse to do it and the media people don't ask about it. Maybe fans should. In this era of power, max effort pitching, starters are increasingly vulnerable. Something's got to give, preferably not their arms.

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