With bullpen reinforcements ranking highly on the New York Yankees’ priority list, Brian Cashman may want seek help internally rather than externally.

May 15, 2014 — A day New York Yankees’ fans should not soon forget. The day in which a star was born and an unfamiliar face rose to prominence, all while the organization sat back and witnessed the happenings, not spending an extra penny in the process.

Dellin Betances, a native New Yorker who was destined to become the next frontline starter in the Bronx, solidified himself as one of the liveliest bullpen arms in baseball, kicking off a string of lethalness that has held true to this date.

The (then) 26-year-old, who had revived his minor league career as a viable bullpen option, took it to the Citi Field mound and struck out six of the seven batters he faced, wowing the 40,133 fans who were on hand witnessing the annual Subway Series.


Since that point, Betances has furthered his status as one of the five best relievers in baseball, mowing his way through every opposition in any role he has been tasked with. Over the three year span, the 6’8″, 260 lb beast owns a 1.93 ERA over 217 appearances, striking out 392 batters in 247 stifling frames.

In 2017, barring sudden changes, he will serve as the team’s closer, a role he has earned through his rise from rock bottom — a 6.44 ERA as a starter between Trenton (AA) and Scranton (AAA) in 2012 — to undisputed superiority.

However, as each day passes and the season gets closer, questions will continue to pop up. Fair questions regarding how the team can maximize Betances’ save opportunities; how the Yanks will have a lead heading into the ninth.

Aside from Tyler Clippard, who was more than stellar in the final two months of the 2016 campaign, New York has no bridge to their hammer.

This presents several problems:

  1. Maintaining a lead until the ninth inning
  2. Having someone formidable enough to pitch the ninth — or eighth, with Clippard closing — when Betances is unavailable
  3. Having someone dominant enough to pitch the eighth when Tyler Clippard is unavailable
  4. The ultimate wearing down of Betances — which results from the two previous issues (i.e. September 2016)

The obvious answers lie in the free agent market, but come at a cost. Everyone knows how automatic the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon are.

While one — or two — of the three would settle many of the issues, why overspend? Why not save the money to fortify the lineup and resurrect the starting rotation toward a state of respectability?

Sure, Betances is a once-in-a-generation type of talent. He possesses an arsenal that does not come around everyday.

But who is to say that the Yankees do not already have someone in their organization who can take a Betances-like path to preeminence?

Without spending unneeded cash, which can be rightfully directed in other areas — either this year or down the line, Joe Girardi and company can locate, and take a gamble on, some of the better arms on the roster.

Luis Severino, who the team hopes can finally make waves in the rotation, is evidently much better served behind the 385-foot sign in right-center field. His repertoire is electric, and a he has a new charisma when he takes the mound in relief.

Let’s be completely honest: the splits are hard to ignore. When someone pitches to an 0-8 record and a 8.50 ERA in 11 starts, and proceeds to go 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in as many appearances out of the bullpen, they could not be screaming the place where they belong any louder.

Michael Pineda, a complete mystery out of the rotation, flashing signs of brilliance and utter misery, may be perfectly suited in the seventh inning. The Yankees have yet to roll the dice, increasingly worried that a guy they initially viewed as a No. 2 starter will be pitching an inning at a time.

At this point, they — and Pineda — do not have much to lose, but surely have a whole lot to gain.

If the big right-hander were to heat up out of the ‘pen, eventually unleashing a 95-plus m.p.h. fastball and a devastating slider in a short-relief scenario, a rise to stardom comparative to Betances would become completely feasible. It’s just a matter of time.

With that, New York would be given the leverage to seek rotational help by way of the trade market or, one or two years down the road, in the midst of an free agent spending spree. Additionally, money would be cleared to pursue one more big bat.

Whether it is Severino, Pineda, or both, the Yankees may have their Betances-like bullpen help waiting in their rotation, with two more-than-replaceable names making the not-so-drastic shift.

Reinforcements do not always have to cost $50-70 million. Brian Cashman should keep this in mind before writing his next check.

ESNY City Stream