Dellin Betances; All-Star or Falling Star?

March 23, 2018

Dellin Betances had the kind of season in 2017 that left fans shaking their heads and asking whether he was an All-Star or a falling star.

 

As has been often pointed out during the offseason, Betances had the best of seasons and the worst of seasons in 2017. Brock Hammond of Pinstripe Alley points out that Betances had some of the league’s best K/9 (15.1) and K% (38.3%) rates, while at the same time, having the league’s worst BB/9 (6.64) and BB% (16.9%) among pitchers who had at least 50 innings.

 

In a word, Betances was inconsistent to the point where former manager Joe Girardi couldn’t rely on him. As a result of his inconsistency, Kunj Shah of Pinstripe Alley writes:

“He had his moments when he showed why he deserved the raise he asked for and then moments when he couldn’t find the strike zone if it was 10 feet wide. Fortunately, Brian Cashman was able to work some trades and bring in bullpen help in the form of David Robertson (yay!) and Tommy Kahnle, so the Yankees were able to get by in spite of Betances’ struggles.”

 

Especially after the trade deadline and into the postseason, Girardi relied more heavily on Chad Green, Kahnle, and Robertson to come in late in games to get outs ahead of Aroldis Chapman.

In the postseason, Hammond writes, “Betances threw fewer than 50% of his pitches for strikes and had to be pulled from both games before recording an out.”

 

Is this the same pitcher who, according to Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues, led all relievers in strikeouts (392) from 2014-2016 and ranked third in WAR (+8.6)?

 

What’s wrong with Betances?- rang out in the Yankees’ press. Many speculated that he was having mechanical issues, as he had had in the past especially early in his career. Axisa suggests that the Yankees will rebuild both Betances’ mechanics and his confidence, which is something they’ve done before in the minors with him.

 

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild spoke to Kevin Kernan of the New York Post about Betances’ work this spring: “Specifically, Rothschild said, Betances has improved on his ‘direction, delivery-wise. He’s getting on line to the plate, especially with the fastball. He’s thrown a lot of fastballs and we’ve made sure the harder breaking ball, he’s letting it go because that’s where he gets a lot of strikeouts.’”

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Not only is he adjusting his mechanics, but he is rethinking his role with the Yankees. Betances told Pete Caldera of North Jersey.com that he wants to return to a multi-inning role in the mold of Green and Adam Warren, able to come in at any point in the game and give the team as many innings as it needs.

 

Betances said to Caldera: “I feel like that’s what I’ve been my first couple of years (in the majors)," and he's already told manager Aaron Boone and the coaching staff that he "will do whatever they need me to do.”

 

Aaron Boone, for his part has told Caldera that aside from Chapman, the relievers will be matched with specific game situations. Thus, the eighth inning may not be Betances’ to hold down. He will likely be called on to pitch in various situations.

 

In spring training, Betances has had mixed results. In 5.1 innings pitched, he has a 6.75 ERA with five hits, four earned runs, one home run, one walk and 11 strikeouts.

 

He has worked multiple innings only once this spring, March 19 against Tampa Bay and had his best outing of the spring. He worked two hitless innings with no walks and four strikeouts.

 

Betances is a work in progress going into the season, but as one of the best relievers in the game, Yankees fans will be rooting for him to figure it out and regain his All-Star form.

 

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