The New York Yankees reliever has been struggling this year, and has seen his recent outings cut short. What should Dellin Betances’ role be for the postseason?
The New York Yankees’ bullpen has had its ups and downs this year, but among those inconstancies have emerged two constants.
Surprisingly, those reliable arms haven’t been the ones the Yankees threw a combined $24 million on in Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances. Lower tier arms like Chad Green and Adam Warren have stepped up and carried the bullpen during its darkest times this season.
Both Chapman and Betances have been hit-or-miss in 2017 and have solidified themselves as the biggest concerns for that bullpen. With the game on the line, one of these two guys is getting the baseball, whether fans like it or not. With the postseason quickly approaching, and a likely winner-take-all Wild Card game in their sights, the Yankees need them on top of their games. Despite their disappointing seasons thus far, both of these relievers have been going in different directions as of late.
Since Aug. 24, Chapman has been looking much like his old self. He has retired 24-of-29 batters this month, tossing 8.0 scoreless innings over seven appearances, allowing only three hits and two walks while racking up 13 strikeouts. The only run he allowed was a solo home run to Yonder Alonso on Aug. 25. His fastball is back up to around the 102-103 MPH range and his slider has looked sharper, inducing more swings and misses, including opponents chasing pitches out of the zone.
It’s a far different tale for Betances. In the same time frame, Betances has pitched 9.2 innings, allowing six hits and 10 walks while posting a dismal 7.45 ERA. While he does have 17 strikeouts in that time, he has failed to pitch a full inning in four outings, one of which where he couldn’t record an out.
Walks have been Betances’ downfall all season. He has allowed 43 free passes this season, the most in the major leagues from a relief pitcher. Hitters all season have commented that Betances has nasty stuff, but realize that they don’t have to swing. Betances off-speed pitches are primarily chased pitches and rarely end up in the strike zone.
Betances’ role in the regular season has been primarily held to the eighth inning. He is supposed to hold down the fort to make Chapman’s job in the ninth easier. Recently, Chapman has had to come in in the eighth to save ballgames after untimely exits from Betances. With Betances struggling, where does that leave him for the postseason?
With the Wild Card game looking more and more likely for the Yankees, Dellin Betances should not be on the mound in a tight ballgame. The Yankees have too many valuable and reliable arms in their bullpen and don’t need to throw the uncertainty of Dellin Betances in with the game and season on the line. Chad Green, Adam Warren, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle are all options Girardi needs to consider prior to calling on Betances.
Once reliable, now questionable, Betances has fallen from grace. Once the go-to reliever, fans now hold their breath when Betances emerges from the bullpen. That’s not how it should be.
As inconsistent as Chapman has been, his resurgence as of late has shown that he has made adjustments and taken some time to figure some things out, especially in his short shutdown last month. Betances, on the other hand, has struggled to figure it out.
Every outing is a nerve-racking one and Joe Girardi can’t afford to waste the season on seeing if Betances can turn it around. If the Yankees make it past the Wild Card game, then Betances should have a limited role in the Division, Championship and, hopefully, World Series.