Dealing Dellin and The New Bullpen Hierarchy
Dellin Betances has followed a strange path to Yankee Stadium. He is a New York City product, born in Washington Heights and raised in Brooklyn. A lifelong Yankee fan he was in the bleachers for David Wells’ perfect game in 1998. He was a one time super prospect as a starting pitcher, joining Manny Banuelos and Andrew Brackman as the “Killer B’s” of the Yankee farm system. Then injuries and command trouble led him being moved to the bullpen last season. Betances was having trouble repeating his delivery when starting every five days. In the bullpen, by pitching more often he was able to fix his mechanics. Then after an impressive spring training he was able to make the big league club.
This season Betances has been nothing short of dominant. In 15 2/3 innings, he has 28 strikeouts and a 1.72 ERA. He is leading the majors with a 44% strikeout rate among pitchers with at least 15 innings pitched. He has also worked his way up the bullpen hierarchy. He started the season in mostly mop up and early inning roles. However, as the season has progressed and he has continued to impress he has been tasked with higher leverage work. Yesterday, he worked the eighth inning with a three run lead facing the heart of the Rays order. The result was a scoreless inning with two punchouts.
“I feel like the last couple of times out, I’ve gone in good situations. Today was a little later in the ballgame, but I feel comfortable. My confidence is where it needs to be right now. I was just glad I was able to go out there and do a good job.” Betances said after yesterday’s game. (h/t Chad Jennings, The LoHud Yankees Blog).
The Yankees now have three legitimate right handed setup men in the bullpen in Betances, Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley. This makes manager Joe Girardi a very lucky man. Most teams have a closer and one trusted setup man. Girardi can summon any of the three. This will also help to shorten the game for the Yankees. A key since, other than Masahiro Tanaka, they have a very iffy and shaky rotation at the moment. Now if the starter can go five innings, they can have Betances pitch the sixth, Warren the seventh, Kelley the eighth and hand it over to David Robertson for the win. Girardi also has the luxury of resting each of the three, because they are all capable of pitching big innings. Girardi doesn’t need to overwork any one of them due to lack of trust in the rest. While the original plan for Betances was to be starter, like many other before him, he has found a home in the bullpen giving the Yankees a big strikeout gun they can call on.