Yankees' Severino 'Very Close' to Facing Live Hitters For First Time Since TJ Surgery

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After struggling to start the season, the Yankees' starting rotation has shown flashes of its potential over the last few weeks. 

Beyond ace Gerrit Cole, each remaining member of the rotation has made improvements, providing more length while showing glimpses of what these arms are truly capable of. 

Now, take that group and imagine adding a healthy Luis Severino to that mix.

The right-hander started throwing off a mound for the first time in early March, slowly ramping up and working in his off-speed pitches. Now, according to manager Aaron Boone, the right-hander is almost ready to face live hitters.

"I don't know his exact data when he's scheduled to throw to hitters, but he is," Boone said on Thursday afternoon. "I know he's got a bullpen today of like 35 pitches, all pitches, so he is getting close."

Severino hasn't pitched for the Yankees since Game 3 of the 2019 ALCS against the Houston Astros. Undergoing Tommy John surgery in his right elbow the following spring—and after making just three starts in the regular season due to injuries in '19—it's been a long time coming for the right-hander's return to the rotation. 

Yankees' Luis Severino '100 Percent' Confident He'll Return to Form After Tommy John Surgery

He's still months away from taking the mound in a big-league game, but each time Boone—or general manager Brian Cashman—has been asked about Severino's progress since the beginning of spring training, all reports have been overwhelmingly positive. 

If New York gets anything like the type of pitcher Severino has been in the past when he's ready to return from this injury, the rotation can collectively take a huge leap forward among the best units in the game.

Severino was New York's ace before he was bit by the injury bug in 2019. The previous two seasons, Severino made the All-Star team, winning 14-plus games and earning votes in the race for the American League Cy Young Award. 

Specifically in 2018, Severino posted a 2.98 ERA over 31 starts, recording 230 strikeouts.

If Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon continue to take strides in the right direction, while Domingo Germán and Jordan Montgomery build on some promising outings of late, New York would have a surplus of viable starters in an already jam-packed staff.

That's before mentioning the likes of Deivi García, Michael King, Clarke Schmidt (who is still working back from his own right elbow injury) and of course, Cole. 

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