New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that starting pitcher Luis Severino will not be ready to pitch in an MLB game until May 1 at the earliest, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.
Severino is suffering from rotator cuff inflammation in his right throwing shoulder, which has been treated with cortisone shots and anti-inflammatories.
The plan is for Severino to begin playing catch next week. Regarding the decision to hold him out until May, Severino said, "I just want to be healthy and help my team."
The Yankees entered spring training with the expectation that Severino would be the Opening Day starter after he led the team in most major pitching categories last season.
Severino went 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 220 strikeouts in 191.1 innings. He was named an All-Star for the second consecutive season and finished ninth in the American League Cy Young award voting.
For as good as Severino's overall numbers were, they would have been even better if not for a brutal stretch from July 7 to Sept. 5 that saw him go 4-5 with a 6.83 ERA over 11 starts.
Severino regained his rhythm over his final three regular-season starts, and he had a strong playoff start in the American League Wild Card Game against the Oakland Athletics as well. Because of that, big things were expected out of the 25-year-old in 2019.
With Severino out, Masahiro Tanaka was announced as the Opening Day starter. He will be followed by James Paxton and J.A. Happ in the rotation, but it isn't immediately clear who will follow him.
Severino won't be back until at least May, and according to WFAN's Sweeny Murti, Cashman said CC Sabathia won't return until sometime in April.
Since Severino and Sabathia won't be part of the rotation to start the season, manager Aaron Boone may have to turn to some young hurlers out of a group that includes Domingo German, Jonathan Loaisiga and Luis Cessa.
All three players struggled at the big league level last season. German went 2-6 with a 5.57 ERA, although he did strike out 10.7 batters per nine innings. Also, Loaisiga went 2-0 with a 5.11 ERA and Cessa went 1-4 with a 5.24 ERA.
The Yanks could also employ the "opener" strategy that was popularized by the Tampa Bay Rays last season. Since reliever Chad Green is capable of going two or even three innings at time, he would be an ideal opener should Boone go in that direction.
Regardless of how the Yankees fill the final two spots of their rotation, it seems likely that New York's stacked lineup led by Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres will be tasked with spearheading the team over the first month of the season.