Dellin Betances as setup man for the Yankees? The same Dellin Betances who underwent a ligament reinforcement procedure on his pitching arm? The same Dellin Betances who was shifted from a starter to a reliever by the Yankees as a result of that procedure? The same Dellin Betances who many fans (and no doubt some Yankee personnel) believed his career was over before it had even begun? Yes. That Dellin Betances. Once considered one of the top prospects on the Yankees, and one of the top pitching prospects in the league, Betances’ career took a dramatic turn for the worse when he underwent a ligament reinforcement procedure on his pitching arm (a procedure similar to Tommy John Surgery) in 2009.
After struggling mightily in the minors upon his return from the procedure, the Yankees announced in May of last season, that a guy who was once viewed as a potential ace for the team, would never start a game for them, instead shifting to the bullpen as a reliever. Things didn’t look too much better for Betances when he was called up by the Yankees last September, when he appeared in 6 games, and pitched to a 10.80 ERA.
In most years, Betances wouldn’t have even been considered as an option to start the season for the Yankees in the bullpen, but with the Yankees uncharacteristically thin in the ‘pen as of right now, the Yankees made it clear, they were going to give Betances a shot to make the team out of training camp. And boy has he capitalized. After looking so dreadful in September, Betances has emerged as a completely new pitcher. This is Betances’ line so far this spring: 8 IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 2BB, 7K. As you can see for yourself, Betances has been pretty good this spring. He seems to have a new calm, collective manner about him, which in turn, is allowing the ball to leave his hand with ease, thus producing good results.
With David Robertson moving from the setup role to the closer’s spot, and with the Yankees thin in the bullpen, there is one big question: assuming he makes the team, could Dellin Betances become the Yankees’ new setup man? While it is obvious that if he does make the team, the Yankees are not just automatically going to thrust him into that setup role, more likely going with either Shawn Kelley or Matt Thornton in that spot, there is still the possibility that if either Kelley or Thornton falters, Betances could very well get a look from the Yankees. And who says it even has to be this season? Betances is still extremely young at only 25 years of age, and assuming David Robertson is the closer long term, and Betances pitches well in either long or middle relief this season, the Yankees could choose to ease him into the setup role next season, or even two seasons from now. But the bottom line is, what once looked like a lost cause with Betances, suddenly has a very strong pulse, and that is something the Yankees and their fans should be very excited about.