One of the bright spots in the Subway Series for the New York Yankees was the 2.1 inning Dellin Betances threw out of the bullpen on Thursday night. Betances struck out six of the seven batters that he faced. He has instantly become a must-see guy to watch out of the bullpen with his mid-to-late 90’s fastball and a devastating curveball that locks up hitters with two strikes. This pitcher is far from the player he was last year in Scranton Wilkes-Barre (AAA) where he walked 42 batters in 38 innings.
One year later, the command has been razor sharp for the 26-year-old who played his high school ball in Brooklyn. He has only walked nine batters in 16 games and has struck out 39 in 22.1 innings pitched to go with his 15.72 K/9. The question that Joe Girardi now has on his hands is where to fit Betances into this bullpen.
Right now, Girardi has put him into plenty of high leverage situations, including last night in the fifth inning when the Mets were threatening to get on the board. YES Network’s Jack Curry mentioned last night on the post game show that Betances could be the 2014 version of what Mariano Rivera was back in 1996. Rivera was the setup man in 1996 to John Wetteland when he had 130 strikeouts in over 107 innings.
The closing situation would be out of the question to this point because David Robertson has done a great job in that role, saving all seven of his chances. This would now lead to using Betances as the eighth inning guy. This would be the most logical spot for him considering their setup man at the start of the season, Shawn Kelley, being on the disabled list due to a back injury.
One could understand the call for Betances in the eighth inning due to the need for a consistent bridge to Robertson. However, we are all overlooking Adam Warren. Warren has been another success story of starter-turned-reliever so far this season.
Warren has a 1.54 ERA this season, which is a tad lower than Betances’ 1.61. In 23.1 innings, he has only given up four runs and struck out 22 batters over that span. With a 0.96 ERA this month, there is nothing that Warren has done to be taken out of that role to this point. Plus, you want to maximize Betances considering we saw Girardi last night use Robertson for a 4-out save.
This is a fluid situation because Betances could continue this domination and force Girardi’s hand to put them in the eighth inning or when Kelley comes back, the roles end up being the same. Nevertheless, the Yankees have to feel comfortable that, as of right now, they have three relievers (Betances, Warren, and Robertson) that they can feel comfortable going to in big spots. While Betances did not work out as a starter, he has become a pitcher who Girardi can give the ball to and feel comfortable with him getting out of a jam and racking up some strikeouts.