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Yankees’ Luis Severino to undergo Tommy John surgery

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This is awful news for a Yankees team that will also begin the season without James Paxton.

Luis Severino, the Yankees right-hander warms up his arm at spring training in 2020 Photo by J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday via Getty Images

Yankees starter Luis Severino will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2020 season, as general manager Brian Cashman told the media on Tuesday:

The loss of the 26-year-old Severino is a devastating one for the Yankees. After missing almost all of the 2019 season with a lat strain and right shoulder rotator cuff inflammation, he’ll enter the 2021 campaign having pitched in just three regular-season games over the previous two seasons. It’s unfortunate to see one of the game’s most exciting young starters — he has a 3.46 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP with two All-Star appearances over five seasons — miss such a large chunk of his prime. And for the Yankees, who signed him to a four-year, $40 million deal with a club option for 2023 last spring, it’s been a rather putrid return on investment so far.

Severino joins James Paxton (out for at least the first month of the season following back surgery) and Domingo Germán (suspended 81 games following a domestic violence incident) as members of the Yankees’ preferred starting five who will be unavailable on Opening Day. Jordan Montgomery and Jonathan Loaisiga figure to follow Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, and JA Happ in the rotation if the Yankees begin the season with a traditional five-man starting alignment. Chad Bettis, Luis Cessa, David Hale, and Michael King are among those who could also compete for the rotation vacancies. That’s a huge blow to a Yankees club that was widely viewed as the favorite to win the AL pennant after signing Cole over the offseason.

If there’s any saving grace here, it’s that the Yankees perhaps have both the best bullpen and the most effective opener, Chad Green, in the majors, so they could attempt to bullpen their way through some games early in the year until Paxton returns. For what it’s worth, Cashman said the team would look at its in-house starters while attempting to fill Severino’s spot. Even so, it’ll be interesting to see if they try to add one of the few free-agent starters remaining on the market such as Jason Vargas, Andrew Cashner (seems unlikely considering his facial hair situation), Collin McHugh, Ervin Santana, Clay Buchholz, or Clayton Richard.