TDG’s Triple Play: New York Yankees!
The Triple Play is back for a fourth season! This regular feature is broken down by senior writer Paul Monte and a rotating panel of writers. If you’re new to the Triple Play, this series breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure!
Luis Severino, Age: 27, Position: SP
Analysis by: Bob Osgood
A Look Into the Future
The year is 2022. Major League Baseball and the Players Association have finally ended nearly a four-month-long labor dispute and ended the lockout, two weeks prior to Opening Day. We finally have the universal DH, the playoffs have been expanded from 10 to 12, and service time manipulation until mid-April is a thing of the past.
Luis Severino takes the mound for his first spring training start as he tries to ramp up for Opening Day. After a year-and-a-half-long rehab from Tommy John surgery, which was sidetracked by a groin injury on his first rehab attempt, Severino finally embarked on a successful rehab in August, receiving a call-up when rosters were expanded in September. Severino hopes to keep the momentum going, after he was able to make three late-season starts for a Yankees team that was already well out of playoff contention. He worked his way up to five innings in his final 2021 start and get the win, a strong turnaround from his previous start when rookie Jarren Duran took Severino deep three times. He is going in the top 100 in fantasy drafts despite the fact he’s only pitched in six games since 2018, all of which came in the month of September. New manager Don Mattingly hopes that Severino can throw 150 innings this season, if managed carefully.
Back to Reality
Perhaps the expectations above are embellished with a touch of Boston homerism, but none of it seems far-fetched. Luis Severino’s Tommy John surgery that will keep him out for nearly two full seasons is fresh in everyone’s head, but I’m not sure 2019 is. A right shoulder rotator cuff injury, combined with a lat strain, kept Severino off the field until September 17th of that season. After a pre-season Tommy John surgery in 2020, Severino looked on track to return before the all-star break of 2021 but suffered a groin injury on the mound in his first rehab start, which he described “felt like somebody shot me in the leg,” and at the moment thought it would be the end of his season. After facing live hitters for the first time this week, in a best-case scenario, he can return for 40-50 innings in 2021. Combined with the 12 innings that he threw in 2019, he will have thrown (at most) 60 innings since 2018. How many pitchers in recent history have missed most, or all, of three consecutive seasons and returned to prominence as a top of the rotation starting pitcher? A name that comes to mind in the past decade is Zack Wheeler. Wheeler missed two entire seasons (2015-16) with multiple elbow surgeries before emerging as an ace for the Mets and now the Phillies. Wheeler’s return to New York in 2017 was for all of 86 1/3 innings with a 5.21 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP before hitting a four-year stride that began in 2018.
So, what do we do with Luis Severino on our dynasty teams? I obviously don’t have a ton of confidence in 2022 and think that he will be going 50-100 picks higher than he should on name recognition alone, unless his September 2021 appearance is catastrophically bad to bring down his value. Hopefully, Severino can get any post-TJ command issues out of his system this season and get his command back in 2022, but an innings limit gives me pause, and he’s someone I’m beginning to feel deserves that “injury-prone” designation with the rotator cuff, lat, elbow, and groin injuries over the past 2.5 seasons. Too much risk for me! It would be unfair to not bring up his upside, however. A pitcher who over 2017-2018 combined (at ages 23 and 24) was 33-14, 3.18 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9 and 10.5 K/9. Ideally, he comes back this year and looks good and you can move him after his first healthy start or in the offseason if you plan to contend in 2022, Severino’s age-28 season. If your contention window is closer to 2023, you probably want to hold but I’m not trading for Severino until I see a large sample size of healthy outings that continues into next year.
Gleyber Torres, Age: 24, Position: SS
Analysis by: Aaron Cumming
Gleyber Torres was a phenom. He was ranked as high as third overall by MLB Pipeline in 2017, following his infamous trade from the Cubs to the Yankees. His approach in the batter’s box was mature beyond his years, and he seemed to have projectable power growth. Those expectations were amplified by a stellar rookie season in 2018, and a breakout sophomore campaign in 2019 that earned him down-ballot MVP votes. Unfortunately for Torres and Yankees fans, that performance has proved to be unsustainable.
Gleyber of Love
In 373 minor league games, Torres managed just 24 home runs. Reaching Triple-A at just 20 years old, scouts felt comfortable projecting power growth. His athletic build and nearly 12% walk rate in the minors hinted that he could evolve into a high-OPS, middle-of-the-order bat. Gleyber instantly gave those scouts something to hang their hats on when he was called up in 2018. He matched that minor league home run total with 24 bombs in just 123 games as a rookie.
Gleyber really put it all on display in 2019. He crushed 38 home runs and maintained a .278 batting average. In his first two years, his walk rate had dipped a bit from his minor league numbers, but he still posted above-average rates of 8.7% and 7.9%. Critics have noted that he did a lot of his damage against the lowly Orioles that year, but if you dig a little deeper, there’s plenty of other valid criticisms that help explain the next two years of struggle.
Never Torres The Cover Off The Ball
In 2019, among the 32 players that hit at least 33 home runs, Gleyber had the second-lowest average exit velocity. This is an imperfect measure, as it is less predictive than other power measures, but it demonstrates a comparative level of consistency (or in this case, inconsistency). While those 38 dingers look nice, Statcast predicted closer to 30. That would’ve put him outside the top 50 in that record-breaking power season.
He has shown a similar power profile last year and this year, but without the same results. Even with this recent “surge,” his last three home runs this week have only had exit velocities of 98.5, 99.6, 101.0, with that last number trailing a single hit by Luke Williams and a groundout from Brad Miller in the same game.
Perhaps he realizes that his power isn’t quite what it seemed during those first two seasons. In 2020 and 2021, Gleyber has cut his swing rate way down, and increased his walk rate back to double digits like it was in the minors. Being more selective, though, has not really paid off. He is swinging less both in and out of the zone, but while his Z-contact rate has stayed the same, his O-contact rate has gone up. It’s almost like he’s trying to be a better “bad ball” hitter, but it’s coming at the expense of being a “good ball” hitter. Hopefully, Torrres can figure out what he needs to do to just be a good hitter.
Prospect: Everson Pereira, Age: 20 Position: OF, Level: Low-A
Analysis by: Phil Barrington
It’s hidden far away
Pereira’s average rank puts him in the lower teens of Yankees prospects. He is currently playing for the Low-A Tampa Tarpons (a tarpon is a fish, and it can get massive, these Florida anglers caught one that weighed 312 pounds, the more you know, eh?). Teammates include Austin Wells (another excellent prospect to consider, with a good walk rate and low K rate in his short career thus far, even if he does not stick at catcher) and second baseman Trevor Hauver (a third-round pick from 2020) who is also hitting well.
In Pereira’s first game with the team, he went 3-for-5 with a triple, a walk and three RBI, and also had three of the four highest exit velocities for the game, all 100 mph plus. That’s an excellent sample (in a jar). As of this writing, he has a stat line of three home runs, two steals, 21 R+RBI, and a slash line of .419/.526/.839, albeit in only 31 at-bats. If he keeps this up, a promotion before season’s end is in his future.
Though someday I may tell
Signed as a 16-year-old from Venezuela for $1.5 million, the right-handed Pereira’s first season was in 2018 as a 17-year-old in Rookie ball, playing for the Pulaski Yankees, where he had a decent season for his age. Playing in 41 games, Pereira had 183 plate appearances, hitting three home runs and two triples while stealing three bases with a respectable slash line of .263/.322/.389.
Pereira is a good fielder with an above average arm, so he can avoid the DH-only role that is already filled and probably will continue to be on a usually stacked Yankees roster. Playing center field at a young age usually allows for time at all three outfield spots, another possible way for him to rise through the Yankees farm system.
When into your world I fell
Pereira’s 2019 season was marred by injuries to his hamstring and foot, so he only played in 18 games, with expected results for an injured player. He spent 2020 in the Yankees’ Dominican instructional league, so we do not have anything to go on from his time there. He is noticeably a bit bulkier in 2021, which cannot hurt his chances to add power, which has been a bit lacking thus far, not unexpected for a primarily line drive hitter. His speed out of the box is also very nice to see, giving him more opportunities to beat out ground balls when necessary and avoid double plays.
Cause in your grasp the fears don’t last
I believe in Pereira, rostering him on every dynasty team that has a large minor league roster (20+), but was shocked to see him dropped and available in a 30-team dynasty league I am in with some other fantasy writers, so he became mine for nada. In smaller leagues, he is not an add as of yet, but any league that size and larger I want him on my roster. Better him than a teenage pitcher, but as he is still a ways off and may not make his major league debut for a couple seasons, he is definitely a long-term play. But this is Dynasty Guru, and if he continues his hot start to 2021 can definitely rise up the Yankee prospect board.
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