Saturday, February 24 2024

His ERA last year will make you wince (6.65) and it’s been a long time since Luis Severino threw more than 102 innings in a single season (2018, to be precise). Plus, there were days last season where a dejected Severino wondered, along with the rest of the baseball world, whether he could ever be a good big-league pitcher again.

Still, he is the first starter the Mets have added for their rotation-in-progress, a winter-long project that could go a long way toward defining their 2024 season. Severino agreed to a one-year, $13-million free agent deal with the Mets on Wednesday night.

Despite his recent past, it’s a fine high-risk, high-reward deal for a team that needs rotation inventory.

The Mets have, really, only two defined starters for next season – Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana – and must add multiple reinforcements before spring training starts. Depending on what you think of Tylor Megill and Jose Butto, two other rotation candidates, perhaps as many as two more beyond Severino.

But if Severino, with the Mets’ help, can regain even some of his former mastery, he might prove to be more significant than just rotation filler. The ex-Yankee, who will be 30 in February, was once one of the best pitchers in the American League.

This signing, the first major player acquisition of the David Stearns Era, is not the crown jewel of the Mets offseason (let’s hope). It should not preclude them from signing Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the apparent pitching prize of the winter. And it shouldn’t matter to Mets fans that Severino started his career as a Yankee, as long as he gets his career together in orange and blue.

Honestly, Severino is the kind of flier a rich team should take, especially on a one-year basis. If Severino flops, it’s not a crippling long-term deal that derails future Met budgets. It will just tax their rotation depth this year.

And that is something the Mets may have to cope with. It’s clear that Severino is no longer the pitcher who was third in the AL Cy Young voting in 2017, when he was 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA. Or the one who won 19 games in 2018 when he finished ninth in the voting. In both years, he had at least 220 strikeouts. In the years since, he was injured multiple times and struggled to find his form.

Last year, he still reached 96 miles per hour on his fastball, but his stuff was no longer so daunting. He was injured again and, when he pitched, he wasn’t good. He gave up a career-worst 2.3 homers-per-nine-innings. He was no longer a strikeout artist, fanning just 18.9 percent of the hitters he faced. In 2022, that figure was 27.7 percent.

In that ‘22 season, Severino showed glimmers of being his old self, so he’s had some recent success, however brief. He had a 3.18 ERA in 102 innings that year over 19 starts, allowing only 72 hits.

That version of Severino – with a little more of a workload – would really help the Mets.

If you’re thinking the Mets overpaid, well, starting pitching is expensive these days. The Cardinals signed Lance Lynn for one year for $11 million and while Lynn threw 183.2 innings last year, he also allowed 44 home runs, the most in MLB. Estimates on Yamamoto’s eventual MLB deal with whoever signs him start at $200 million.

This is not that, obviously. This is the kind of move the Mets, under Steve Cohen, should try to take advantage of – a talented player looking for a bounce back.

Maybe this one fills a rotation spot.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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