Lost in this weekend’s Yankees activities- a sweep of the Royals, Eduardo Nunez being placed on the disabled list, the kerfuffle between Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain- was some interesting news out of Scranton, when the Yankees officially ended Dellin Betances’ career as a starting pitcher. The one-time 43rd prospect in all of Major League Baseball will be officially out of options next year, meaning that if he does not make the 25-man roster, the Yankees will be forced to place him on waivers and risk losing a valuable depth player. Though it is a far-cry from the promise his once showed as a member of the “Killer B’s,” this move might actually make a lot of sense for the Yankees moving forward.
Early in Spring Training, I talked about the ups and downs of Betances’ short career. In that post, I looked at the complications he has had as he began his development through the minors, including control issues that plagued him in 2012 and the injuries sustained in the years previous to that. This year has similarly shown that Betances continues to struggle. At Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this year, in 26.1 IP, Betances has a 5.27 ERA. However, this could be contributed to a relatively small sample size in terms of innings pitched, combined with two mediocre performances on April 14 and April 18, in which he surrendered six and five runs, respectively. (This is further evidenced by the BAA, a measly .198.( Since that April 18 game, though, Betances has an ERA of 1.67, albeit in limited innings. He has only pitched more than five innings once all season, a seven inning performance on April 23. One continued issue for Betances: the walks. He has given up more than one walk in all but one performance this year. For a guy who has issues repeating his delivery and has problems with control, that isn’t exactly a recipe for success.
Given that Betances has only pitched 2.1 innings as a reliever (his first foray into the bullpen came on May 10), there isn’t much to be read into about whether or not he has had greater success in one role or another. More likely, the move to the bullpen was made to enhance Betances’ chances of making the Yankees roster in 2014.
However, the bullpen could be exactly where he would have a place with the club in 2014: Mariano Rivera will retire at the close of this season; Boone Logan’s free agency will likely leave him headed elsewhere; and Joba Chamberlain’s durability and lack of consistency (as well as a lack of poise, as this past weekend’s engagement with Rivera demonstrated), will leave at least three empty spaces in the bullpen.
If Betances could manage to control his mid-90’s fastball for an inning and change, it could be a cheap, internal boost to the Yankees in their bullpen. Further, it would spare the team from having to place him on waivers, effectively losing a player who has not done much of anything to contribute to the big-league club, and whose ceiling was once so high.
Still, that is a ways off for Betances, who is the only active “B” this season (Andrew Brackman was released by the Yankees and currently plays with the White Sox, while Manny Banuelos recovers from Tommy John surgery). His ceiling may have been set too high in Rookie Ball, as so often happens with young pitchers, and his height (6’ 8”) may have only worsened his control issues. However, if he can manage to get it together enough in 2012 to impact the Yankees in a meaningful way in 2013, he may be able to resurrect his career and find a more stable place with the club.