Wishful-thinking Joe Girardi compares Luis Severino to Roy Halladay

TORONTO -- For the time being, the most important starts for the New York Yankees' franchise are going to be happening in places like Scranton, Columbus and Toledo.

These are the Triple-A locales where Luis Severino will try to recapture the magic that made him appear to be a future ace, with many speculating the future could be as early as this season.

Instead, the Yankees took Severino, 22, off the disabled list and immediately shipped him to the minors. There wasn't much of a choice.

Severino has been one of the worst starters in baseball this season; his 7.46 ERA is the second-poorest among pitchers with 35 innings or more.

While more hesitant to throw his changeup, his fastball -- roaring in at the same 95 mph as last year -- has been crushed this season.

Opponents have demolished his heater at a .356 clip, with 26 percent of the balls being hit hard, according to ESPN Stats & Info. During his 11 starts as a rookie last season, batters had just a .235 average with a hard-hit rate of 17 percent against his heater.

The one positive of those numbers is that Severino, who was on the disabled list with a triceps injury, appears to be healthy. Usually, the velocity goes if something is wrong with a pitcher's arm.

Severino threw a rehab game in Tampa, Florida, on Sunday, demonstrating his health, but the Yankees are understandably in no rush to give him his starting job back.

There are no sure things in the prospect game, even for a guy who begins his career 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA and shows a level head you would expect from someone twice his age.

Sometimes it takes time to adjust to the major league game. This is what the Yankees are praying is Severino's deal. So their manager, Joe Girardi, brought up the name of Roy Halladay as a comp.

"This is not unusual," Girardi said. "This is not abnormal. I'll bring up a name right here we saw -- Roy Halladay. He got sent back down because he struggled. He figured it out and was pretty darn good. This is not unusual. This is part of the progress for young players."

As a 22-year-old in 1999, Halladay went 8-7 with a 3.92 ERA and appeared to be in the majors to stay. In 2000, he was 4-7 with a 10.64 ERA, appearing lost. A stint in the minors righted his head, his mechanics and ultimately his career, resulting in what could be argued was a Hall of Fame career.

At the moment, Halladay's tale is what the Yankees must grip on to, and they hope it applies. One day, maybe, it will be almost funny that anyone doubted Severino. That day, though, is not today.

Severino's importance to the Yankees is hard to understate, considering they have no current starters fully obligated past 2017. Masahiro Tanaka can opt out after 2017, while the contracts of Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia are all up by then. Their top prospect, James Kaprielian, has an elbow issue.

Severino needed to be one of the answers this season, which still could happen if Triple-A Scranton pitching coach Tommy Phelps can do more with him than Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild has accomplished.

As Severino leaves, the Yankees have no answers as to why he struggled. Girardi thought Severino looked good during spring training.

Now, they can't worry about today given so much uncertainty around Severino's tomorrows.

"When you are looking at Luis, you are looking at long term," Girardi said. "Long term, we have to get things straightened out. This isn't a guy who is 34 or 35, who has a long track record. This is a kid with a lot of talent. We want, the next time he comes up, to be a finished product. He came up last year -- and some of it was based on need -- and did very well. Sometimes when you enter your second season you have to make adjustments more than you ever had to make. It is not always so easy. He'll get through this."

The Yankees better hope so, which is why if you want to see the biggest starts for the franchise in June, they will be taking place in Triple-A parks around the International League.