After Thursday night’s blow up and the New York Yankees’ playoff hopes in the balance, is the pressure piling up on Dellin Betances?
Being a closer in this league is by no means an easy job. You could argue that it’s only one inning, but it’s undoubtedly the most essential part of the entire game.
A team is determined on how they finish and for the New York Yankees, it hasn’t been looking so good.
About two weeks ago, the Bombers were in the discussion of somehow winning the American League East title, but being swept by their arch-nemesis, the Boston Red Sox, they’re quickly falling out of the conversation.
Unfortunately, this all stems to their closer and best relief pitcher Betances who chose the worst time to experience struggles.
With a comfortable 5-2 lead on Thursday night, the 28-year old managed to give up four runs, handing the Red Sox a victory on a silver platter.
This series against the Red Sox could make or break the Yankees’ playoff hopes and Betances started it off on the wrong foot and following Sunday night’s 5-4 loss, the Bombers are down eight games back in the division and four back of the second wild-card spot.
As the Yankees’ full-time closer, this was the moment for Betances to shine and after his latest breakdown, you have to wonder: is the pressure piling up on him?
Betances has constantly been the middle man since making his debut in 2014 playing right behind closer Andrew Miller. Once Aroldis Chapman came on board, Betances’ role would reduce to the seventh inning and nothing more.
However, after general manager Brian Cashman dealt Chapman and Miller deals at the trade deadline, manager Joe Girardi handed Betances the keys to the kingdom.
The role was essentially in Betances’ hands ever since he made the roster in 2013, especially after the 2015 season when he finished with over 100 strikeouts for a second straight year, a feat that’s never been done by a Yankee reliever.
The closing duty was downright made for him, but he’s not living up to the hype when it matters most.
Last season, he posted a 1.50 ERA allowing only 14 runs while striking out 131 batters in 74 total games. In this campaign (69 games), Betances’ ERA has jumped out to 2.83 with 120 strikeouts allowing 22 runs.
Sure the strikeout numbers are still present, however, since switching to the full-time closer in August, Betances has blown two saves out of 13 opportunities and they haven’t been pretty.
Over his last five appearances, the 6’8″ flamethrower owns a 15.75 ERA, an opponents batting average of .417 BAA, and two blown saves.
Betances is Girardi’s and the team’s wonder boy in the bullpen and will most likely be the closer next season, but as of right now, he needs to step up his game.
If he wants any chance of pitching in the playoffs or even being trusted upon to be the team’s closer in 2017, he needs to be ready when that phone rings and close out the games that matter the most.
After all, his future role could be in question if his dismal play doesn’t take a dramatic turn for the better.