Mets Coaches Have Turned Luis Severino into a ‘Likely’ Trade Candidate

Luis Severino

Getty Luis Severino

The New York Mets are expected to trade Luis Severino by the trade deadline, The Athletic’s Jim Bowden reported on Tuesday, June 11.

After making his name as an ace for the New York Yankees, Severino struggled through injury and poor performance in the Bronx the last two years before reviving his career across town.

Now, with the Mets facing an uphill climb for a playoff spot, Severino could be on the move. The 30-year-old righty has posted numbers reminiscent of his earlier days with the Yankees, pitching to a 3.25 ERA and giving up 0.6 home runs per 9 innings in 12 starts.

It’s indicative of the work that the Mets staff has done with Severino, helping him rely less on his fastball and changeup while mixing in more of his sinker and slider.

The Mets’ Sinker Revolution

A year ago , it was hard to see how Severino would have fetched much value in a trade deadline deal. Through the end of July 2023, he was saddled with a bloated 7.49 ERA with opponents were hitting .329 against him.

That resulted in the Mets getting him at a bargain deal, for $13 million over one year.

It’s no accident that Severino’s numbers have skyrocketed over the first two-plus months of the 2024 season. As FanGraphs’ Jay Jaffe pointed out in a piece on June 3, yes, Severino’s health has made a difference, but so has his mix of pitches.

“[Mets pitching coach Jeremy] Hefner’s staff-wide emphasis on an increased use of the sinker — which the Mets are throwing 25% of the time, third in the majors and nearly double last year’s 12.9% rate — has paid particular dividends for Severino, who threw the pitch just 1% of the time in 2022 and 2.8% last year but is up to 20.3% this year,” Jaffe wrote.

As a result, Severino is getting more outs despite striking out fewer batters on average and walking players at about the same rate he always has. His ground ball percentage has shot up almost 10% compared to last year (42.2% to 52.0%) while his soft contact rate has climbed with it (14.4% to 21.8%).

FanGraphs data indicates that Severino’s changeup is his weakest pitch and he’s now using it at a career-low rate of 8.7%.

Luis Severino’s Shift in Focus

Severino can strike out batters with an upper-90s fastball; he has had that skill his whole career. The difference is that he doesn’t have to rely on that anymore, which is why his lower strikeout rate doesn’t mean much.

“Before, when I was a little younger, I was thinking too much about striking everybody out,” Severino explained to The Athletic’s Tim Britton in May. “Right now, I’m just focused on getting people out and getting deep into the game. It’s more important to throw innings than to strike everybody out.”

It has paid off, as Severino is averaging exactly 6 innings per start. And when he does allow baserunners, his secondary pitches can help him get out of trouble.

“Just to have [the sinker] in my pocket that can help me get a groundball here, get a double play, get out of an inning with one pitch instead of striking out two guys… I was just thinking about how I can be more productive and save more pitches,” Severino added.

Those are skills that translate to any ballpark. One might expect Severino to give up fewer home runs in a pitcher-friendly Citi Field vs. a bandbox like Yankee Stadium, but should that cause concern for teams in hitters’ parks looking to trading for him? It doesn’t appear that way.

A ground ball is a ground ball in any park, making Severino built to succeed anywhere.

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