Luis Severino's injury strains Yankees' rotation heading into 2020 season

The New York Yankees lost Luis Severino for the season after the fireball pitcher suffered a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and will need Tommy John surgery.

The injury puts a damper on the hopes that the Yankees would have a good enough rotation to last through the regular season and to the World Series. New York is already missing James Paxton and Domingo German for the first few months of the year and will have to rely more on Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and Jordan Montgomery.

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“I don’t want to sugarcoat the fact that being without Sevy, that’s a blow, but it doesn’t change our expectations and what we’re truly capable of,” manager Aaron Boone said. “So, no, nothing changes.”

Luis Severino will miss the entire 2020 season. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

Luis Severino will miss the entire 2020 season. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

Tanaka was an All-Star last season but his ERA and WHIP have been high over the last three seasons. Since 2017, Tanaka recorded a 4.34 ERA with a 1.207 WHIP. While he’s recorded 502 strikeouts over the same span, his K/BB ratio is at 4.33. His K/9 also decreased in 2019 from 9.2 to 7.4 in five more starts.

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Happ is the oldest pitcher in the Yankees rotation at 37. He is in the second year of a three-year deal he signed in the 2018 offseason with New York trying to get the same spark out of him they received when they acquired him from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Happ’s 2019 season could have been better. He had a 4.91 ERA in 31 appearances. He also had a 7.8 K/9 ratio – his lowest since the 2016 season – and allowed 34 home runs – the most of his career.

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New York Yankees' Jordan Montgomery smiles during a spring training baseball workout Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

New York Yankees' Jordan Montgomery smiles during a spring training baseball workout Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Montgomery will be back on the mound full-time. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 and returned to the team at the end of last season. There will be a lot more focus on him with Severino out of commission for quite some time. In 37 career appearances, he has a 3.91 ERA and 172 strikeouts.

According to Roster Resource, Jonathan Loaisiga is slated to be the fifth pitcher in the Yankees’ rotation. But New York does have options if they do not want to use an opener every fourth or fifth game.

Deivi Garcia is the team’s top pitching prospect could get his big debut earlier than expected. Other Triple-A pitchers Michael King and Albert Abreu could also see increased time with New York.

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The Yankees also have options on the free-agent market. Andrew Cashner, Clay Buchholz, Collin McHugh, and Matt Harvey are just some of the names who could be plug-and-play options for New York in a pinch.

Could Brian Cashman seek relief on the free-agent market? (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Could Brian Cashman seek relief on the free-agent market? (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

“We’re always constantly looking for upgrades anyway,” general manager Brian Cashman said.

One thing is for certain for the Yankees: the spotlight just got bigger. Gerrit Cole, the team’s $300 million man, will be even more important to the Yankees. The aforementioned back end of the rotation will need to step up in big spots and the offense will have to somehow stay healthy.

The growing trend of Yankees injuries is something eye-opening.

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New York had 30 players on the injured list over the course of the 2019 season, setting a major-league record. Going into 2020, New York already has three – Severino, Paxton and Aaron Hicks. German is on the restricted list for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy and will miss the first 63 games of 2020.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.