Aaron Boone had good news to report on Saturday. Yes, really, good news remains possible for the Yankees in a season that seems headed to irrelevancy.
Former AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber is making progress from a right shoulder strain and could throw a bullpen session by the end of next week. Meanwhile, Luis Severino will throw live batting practice on Sunday in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and a groin injury. The plan is for Severino to do that a second time before going on a rehabilitation assignment.
That’s welcome news for a team that could use some. Those pitching reinforcements, however, aren’t exactly close. Boone said he still thinks Severino could be back by August, while a return for Kluber isn’t believed to be in the cards until September.
“Obviously [Kluber getting back on the mound] will be a big step and we’ll see how that goes,” Boone said before the Yankees hosted the Red Sox Saturday night. “Right now he’s feeling good and feeling good about the direction he’s moving in. He’s been out to 120 feet and responding to that really well.
“Even though it’s been a long process, and by design with this throwing program, I would say it’s going pretty well.”
The 35-year-old Kluber hasn’t been on a mound since suffering a shoulder injury in a May 25 start against the Blue Jays. He lasted just three innings that game, after which tests revealed a strain of the subscapular muscle in his throwing shoulder. That led to the Yankees placing him on the 60-day injured list. Before getting hurt, Kluber had performed well, throwing a no-hitter against the Rangers and pitching to a 3.04 ERA across 53 ¹/₃ innings spanning 10 starts.
Without Kluber, the Yankees have gone to a number of different options, including long relievers such as Michael King and Nestor Cortes Jr., to middling results. They are both now shelved, King on the IL with a bruised finger and Cortes on the COVID-19 list. The hope is King will be back by the time the Yankees need a fifth starter.
Severino hasn’t pitched this season for the Yankees after undergoing his elbow surgery in February of last year. He seemed to be nearing a return a month ago, before he suffered a groin injury in his second rehabilitation start on June 12, pushing his time frame back.