Should The New York Yankees Give Dellin Betances A Larger Role?
May 22, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances (68) gestures after the win against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

With the New York Yankees getting sick and tired of Tyler Clippard‘s struggles, would they consider handing Dellin Betances a bigger role?

If there’s one thing the New York Yankees didn’t expect to happen, that “thing” would be bullpen struggles.

Over the last seven days, the ‘pen owns the fourth-worst ERA (6.52), have lost the most games (four) and are posting the worst win probability added (-2.13), according to FanGraphs.

New York’s seventh-inning man, Tyler Clippard, has stood out during these struggles. Over his last five games, the 32-year-old has surrendered multiple base runners in four of them while posting a 12.27 ERA (3.2IP, 6H, 5ER, 3BB, 3K, 2HR) in that same span. 

In 2017, his clutch rating (quantifies a player’s performance in high leverage situations) of -1.18 is the 17th-worst among 420 qualified relief pitchers in Major League Baseball. Yet, manager Joe Girardi continues to throw him out in the most important part of the game. Is it time for a change?

In Girardi’s postgame press conference, a reporter asked if he would consider moving All-Star reliever Dellin Betances from his setup role into an assignment that would require him to work the seventh and eighth inning.

“I think he could do it for a short period time,” Girardi said of the possibility of throwing Betances into a two-inning setup role. “But I think it would wear on guys physically because of the long season. I’d prefer not to do that. But we might have to look at different things.”

It’s not a bad idea, as the three-time All-Star is the guy you want on the mound with the game on the line. Since 2014, Betances owns the most strikeouts (433) among Major League relievers and his 2017 ERA of 0.42 leads all bullpen arms with at least 20 innings pitched. He has been filthy.

But, time in time again we have seen Betances falter toward the end of a season. In addition to striking out the most batters since 2014, only Carlos Torres has registered more innings than New York’s 6-foot-8 reliever. That’s a lot of registered innings and if his career batting average against of .224 (highest of any month) in September tells us anything, it’s that the taxation on his right arm eventually catches up to him.

As Girardi says, Betances could probably do it for a short period of time. And he would thrive. Heck, the Yankees might actually win some games with Clippard away from that seventh inning.

However, there is no need for it. With Adam Warren (shoulder) expected to come back soon and Aroldis Chapman back in his closer role, there shouldn’t be a need for a heavy workload down the road for Betances. The problem now can be fixed, but creating a problem with their star reliever when September and the postseason is the opposite of ideal.