Decoding Luis Severino’s oblique injury: Why Yankees move him to the 15-Day IL


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The New York Yankees have moved Luis Severino to the 15-day injured list. On Saturday, medical tests confirmed that the starting pitcher was suffering from a high-grade left oblique strain.

His career took another unfortunate turn as Luis Severino began his IL stint. There are questions about whether he has already thrown his final pitch in a Yankees uniform. Yankees manager Aaron Boone, however, only confirmed that his 2023 season is over.

“He’s done for the year,” Boone told on Saturday after their 9-2 defeat against Milwaukee.

Luis Severino’s ‘shooting’ pain

Luis Severino’s departure from the Friday night game against Milwaukee transpired in the fifth inning after he conceded a leadoff single to Brice Turang on a 92 mph fastball. Upon delivering his 70th pitch, Severino abruptly discarded his glove in front of the mound. He then bent over in evident discomfort, making his way around the mound. The 29-year-old pitcher clutched his left side, specifically in the oblique region, prompting the athletic trainer and manager Aaron Boone to assess him. Ultimately, Luis Severino was replaced by Jhony Brito.

Luis Severino later described the sensation as feeling like he had been shot and experiencing a deep, sharp pain. He had difficulty holding back tears as he spoke.

Yankees' Luis Severino is seen in pain after getting injured in the 5th inning vs. the Brewers at Yankee Stadium on Sept 9, 2023.
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

Heading into free agency at the conclusion of this season, Luis Severino’s record stands at 4 wins and 8 losses, with an earned run average (ERA) of 6.65. However, it’s worth noting that he had managed to secure 2 wins in three recent starts leading up to Friday. This was a marked improvement from his previous four appearances, during which he had gone winless with an alarming ERA of 14.18.

Luis Severino’s season debut was delayed until May 21 due to a strained latissimus dorsi muscle. His current contract is structured as an option year worth $15 million, part of a five-season deal that totals $55 million. Notably, his performance has fluctuated over the years. In 2018, he enjoyed a standout season with a 19-8 record and was selected as an All-Star for the second consecutive year. However, his performance has been less consistent since then, with a record of 13-12 and a 4.47 ERA in 45 starts. Luis Severino, who made his major league debut in August 2015, has an overall record of 54 wins and 37 losses with a 3.79 ERA across 141 games, primarily as a starter (125 starts).

What is an oblique injury?

An oblique injury, often referred to as a side strain, can initially manifest as a sharp pain in the ribcage when the oblique muscle sustains its first injury. Over time, individuals may experience a sensation of tightness and pressure in the lower rib area or the front of the abdomen. This discomfort intensifies when the body is twisted while sitting or when transitioning from a prone position, such as rising from a bed.

The term “oblique injury” encompasses damage to any of the oblique muscles, whether they are the internal oblique or the external oblique, which are situated on the outer surface of the abdominal sides.

The external oblique is located superficially, closer to the skin, while the internal oblique lies beneath it. These muscles extend from the lower ribs to the pelvis, facilitating rotational movements of the body. Additionally, they contribute to other actions such as sideways and forward bending, respiratory functions, and increasing abdominal pressure for activities like bowel movements or during childbirth.

The oblique muscles are positioned adjacent to the rectus abdominis muscles, responsible for forming the “six-pack” appearance and crucial for core stability and rotation. Among these muscles, the internal oblique, situated beneath the external oblique, is the abdominal or core muscle most prone to injury in baseball. This is because it is highly activated during hitting and throwing motions.

Like any muscle strain, oblique strains are categorized into three grades. Grade 1 signifies a mild strain, Grade 2 indicates a moderate strain, and Grade 3 represents a severe strain in which the muscle experiences a rupture.

Regarding recovery times, while mild oblique strains may resolve within a few days, severe strains may necessitate surgery with a recovery period spanning 3 to 4 months. In 2017, former Dodgers athletic trainer Stan Conte, in collaboration with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and Major League Baseball, conducted a study to delve deeper into the impact of oblique strains on injured MLB players. Utilizing MLB’s Health and Injury Tracking System (HITS), the study revealed that players with Grade 1 strains typically require approximately 27 days to recover, whereas pitchers with these strains may need as many as 35 days to return to full health.

Yankees express sympathy for Luis Severino

Yankees' Luis Severino exits the game after getting injured in the 5th inning vs. the Brewers at Yankee Stadium on Sept 9, 2023.
NY Post

Yankee captain Aaron Judge, who debuted one year after Luis Severino, expressed his sympathy, saying that it was a difficult situation. He spoke about their shared experiences over the years and praised the pitcher’s competitive nature. Judge noted the setbacks Luis Severino had faced in his career and his determination to keep showing up and hoped that it might be one of the last times Severino throws at Yankee Stadium.

In 2019, Luis Severino faced a setback when he strained a lat muscle, preventing him from making his initial start until September 17th. He managed to make two more starts during the postseason. Unfortunately, his challenges persisted, leading to Tommy John surgery on February 27, 2020. Luis Severino made his return in September 2021, participating in three games. However, his 2022 season was marked by a two-month absence due to right shoulder tightness.

Boone noted that Luis Severino’s early years as a starter had shown a lot of promise, with him being one of the dominant starters. Boone mentioned that despite the injuries Luis Severino had faced in recent years, he had delivered strong performances when healthy. However, Boone pointed out that the pitcher had experienced significant struggles during the current season and the injury was a new challenge for him.

To fill Luis Severino’s roster spot, the Yankees have summoned reliever Ron Marinaccio from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Marinaccio has compiled a record of 4-5 with two saves and a 3.99 ERA across 45 appearances for the Yankees in the current season. His performance took a downturn recently, going 0-2 with a 7.11 ERA in his last 11 appearances prior to his assignment to Triple-A on July 31st.

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