Over the past two seasons he has logged 174 innings, struck out 266 batters, has an ERA around 1.40 and only allowed 32 runs. He is also making $507,500 this season, which is exactly what he made last season. New York Yankees’ reliever Dellin Betances is the biggest steal in all of Major League Baseball.
In 2015 he led all relievers with 131 strikeouts, which was 15 more than elite closer and new teammate, Aroldis Chapman. And in 2014 he led all relievers with 135 strikeouts, 26 more than the next closest, Wade Davis. See a pattern here?
Betances has been unbelievable over the past two seasons, as a setup man and part-time closer. While closer Andrew Miller missed time last season, Betances saved nine games, while doing what he does best; striking batters out. Once Miller came back, Betances went back into the eighth inning and kept shutting opponents down.
Outside of saves, he has better numbers than a lot of closers. Betances pitched more innings than most closers, held batters to just a .157 average and had a WHIP of 1.01.
He gave up 46 hits last season and 45 hits the year before, which is about one every two innings. His walks spiked from 24 to 40 last season, but that is still less than one every two innings, and fewer than some closers.
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Anyone who puts up these numbers is an elite closer. Unfortunately for him, he plays on the Yankees and has Miller and eventually Chapman ahead of him. Both are top closers, and get paid like it. Miller has another $27 million coming, while Chapman is due $11.325 million before hitting free agency at the end of the year. He will break the bank if he continues being his dominant self.
Miller has stepped in nicely for David Robertson, who bolted for Chicago. He saved 36 games for the Yankees last season, while striking out 100 over 61.2 innings. Very good numbers for a player who had no previous history of closing, as he had just two saves through his first nine seasons.
Chapman has been an absolute stud through his first six seasons, saving 146 games, 145 over the past four seasons on a good and bad Cincinnati Reds team. He also struck out 546 batters over 319 innings, while sporting a 2.17 ERA. He constantly has the fastest pitch, and holds the MLB record of 105.1 mph.
It’s crazy to think Betances is the third-best pitcher in this bullpen, but he is, at least for now. Chapman and Miller have been doing it longer, which gives them the advantage, for the moment. Chapman will most likely walk at the end of 2016, unless he takes a pay cut to remain in pinstripes. Miller could also be traded down the road, as the team looks to hand Betances the closer role and the need for a true ace increases. Neither are definite, but are still very possible.
But it is also the attitude of Betances that makes him even more of a steal. He constantly talks about doing what is best for the team, which is him pitching earlier in the game. His mentality is that of a veteran, not a 28-year-old kid.
This season he already has 12 strikeouts in just five innings, while allowing three unearned runs. His numbers may decline once Chapman comes back, but he will be put in a very important seventh inning role, which is key for the Yankees.
Right now they are getting away with kids, Johnny Barbato and Chasen Shreve pitching, but they have just 81 innings between them. Plus, Shreve declined heavily at the end of last season, so there’s still a little uncertainty with him. The starters have been average so far, so the need is there to stretch the bullpen.
Betances pitching the seventh inning is going to be unfair for opposing batters. Teams better look to score some runs off the starters, otherwise they’re going to run into trouble once Betances, Miller and Chapman enter the game.