Dellin Betances continues to signify dominance for the New York Yankees with his third consecutive All-Star nod.
Demoted to the bullpen in the minors, both he and the organization found light. Able to hammer down his mechanics and finish on the same plane, the youngster discovered a way to overpower opponents.
With a 6’8″, 265 lb frame, the intimidation combined with lower half strength led player development to believe that he was a back-end arm of the future.
Well, things panned out. In fact, the Yankees won the lottery on this one.
A 2014 spring training jam in which he retired Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion sequentially with the bases loaded earned him a spot on the roster. That year, he turned from a marginal piece out of the gates to one of the most effective relievers in baseball.
On May 16, 2014 against the New York Mets, Joe Girardi unleashed the right-hander in a scoreless game. He proceeded to strike out six of the seven batters he faced, putting himself on the New York baseball map. The rest, as they say, was history.
Since the moment he earned a roster spot that spring, his ERA is a sparkling 1.67 while fanning 340 opposing batters over 215 frames. His K/9 rate has exceeded 13 in each of his full seasons in the Bronx, including an other worldly 16.2 clip thus far in 2016.
What has that earned the Brooklyn native? Three all-star bids, tremendous respect around the league, and pure admiration from fans.
With that said, his performance signifies more.
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Given that he stays in New York, he is well on his way to being the most effective reliever in Yankee history. For a guy who is currently a non-closer, that implies tremendous amounts of dominance.
Regardless, the closer/non-closer debate means so little in today’s day and age.
Let’s translate Betances’ three-year numbers over a 10-year career and see what we discover.
How about steamrolling past the iconic Mariano Rivera in strikeouts (1,373)? How about a H/9 mark that outweighs the great Goose Gossage by a full base hit (5.4)? How about a K/9 rate that would exceed any historical Yankee pitcher by 5.9 whiffs?
Remember, we are talking about a 10-year career. Not a 19-year career that Rivera featured. Not a 22-year overall tenure for Gossage.
So, yes, Betances would go down as one of the most dominant Yankee pitchers — let alone relievers — if he stays anywhere close to this rate for the next seven years.
Not to mention longevity. Translate this performance over a 15-year career and he becomes the all-time strikeout leader in franchise history (2,060).
You heard that right: a setup man with the most strikeouts for the greatest franchise in sports.
Sure, it is certainly wishful thinking. Betances would have to remain with the Yanks, not seek a larger deal to become a closer elsewhere, and continue to thrive. However, the thriving part does not seem too difficult to fathom.
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As far as short-term dominance goes, he is probably in the midst of the greatest stretch in the team’s illustrious history. Anyone who is among the team leaders in strikeouts year in and year out as a one inning guy is building something special.
Being born and raised in New York, coming up in the great Yankee organization, and ultimately becoming a force in the bigs would lead one to believe that he has a soft spot in his heart for the Big Apple. If the right opportunity presents itself, the 28-year-old would likely be thrilled to finish his career as a New York Yankee.
Taking current projections into account, he would not just be considered a “nice player” when it is all said and done, he would be viewed as an immortal.
Fans are simply being spoiled by his brilliance. Night in and night out he provides the club with something other teams throughout the league would give a lot to have: sheer mastery and superiority.
It takes a blind set of eyes to miss the fact that he is on the verge of becoming a once-in-a-generation name. “Yankee lore” may not be too far from the realm of possibilities for the remarkable big right-hander.
As he embarks on his third straight All-Star appearance, step back for a moment and truly recognize the ceiling on a guy who is reaching unthought of heights in pinstripes.