Apr 22, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances (68) throws a pitch against the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning at Fenway Park. The Yankees won 9-3. (Photo Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

What Should Dellin Betances' Role Be In The Bullpen?


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.

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  • JoeDaBeast

    It’s a great problem to have in the bullpen, especially with the starting rotation concerns. I would not place Betances in the “Rivera ’96″ talks yet, especially because that would create increased pressure on Robertson (where as pitching for the Yankees should be enough). Giradi is believed to be a great strategist, this is his best opportunity to prove it. Make the young pups prove their worth and they will pay dividends for seasons to come.

  • arth65456

    Great comment Joe! I can definitely understand not placing Betances in that class yet, it’s just the roles that are maybe the same as what Curry said the other night. I like that Girardi is giving the younger relievers more pressure-filled moments. For me, it doesn’t feel like Robertson is pressured by the big stage to this point, but there’s plenty of season left. Thanks for the read!

  • Titan

    How about him maturing into a starter out of the bullpen? He should be given another opportunity to start in the future. Who knows…it might work. I love thinking out of the box!

    • arth65456

      It’s a possible idea Titan, but I think Warren is more likely to go to the rotation than Betances. If you have a kid that has the stuff to pitch in the bullpen, the Yankees learned from the Joba incident that you can’t temper with these pitchers. I would be very hesitant to put Betances back in there because it seems he has found something in his new role that he didn’t have as a starter when he was walking guys left and right.

      • Titan

        Arth, I understand and I agree with you 100%. But my point really is that, if Betance’s really found that “something” it should be nothing more than control and command of his pitches. That means he’s learned how to move his large body frame to make his delivery work for him; if this is the case, then he should have no problem starting and his only concerns should only be psychological, like the weight that comes from starting, the pressure that amounts during the first few innings, the anxiety to fulfill expectations, the big stage,etc., and most pitchers don’t really know how to control that aspect of the game. I hope that all the success he’s found or as we like to say, ‘that something’, means he really found the trick, and that it wasn’t only casual.

        • arth65456

          Absolutely, and with the Yankees needing some starters, you would hope maybe that he is one of those guys in the future.

          • Titan

            Yes, my friend!

          • arth65456

            Exactly, you just want the Yankees to get the most out of him

          • Titan

            Yes, maybe we know he’s got so much talent that we think one day he could develop into that ace. But then it’s like you say! HahahLOL!

      • Titan

        To tell you the truth, I really didn’t agree with you. But when you mentioned Joba’s case, then I had a flash back and an epiphany. That brought me so much bittersweet memories of him in the Bronx zoo, the vertigo of seeing him pitch, and I realized you were right.

        • arth65456

          Totally understood your viewpoint. Great to have differing opinions and debate!