Dellin Betances used to be one of the game’s elite relievers, but the New York Yankees right-hander hasn’t shown any signs of rediscovering his old form. Drastic measures may be in order.
The 2018 Major League Baseball season is underway and the New York Yankees, to put it nicely, aren’t off to an ideal start. From untimely injuries, shaky starting pitching, an on-again, off-again lineup and an underachieving bullpen, the Bombers are leaving much to be desired.
However, since last season, there’s been one player on the team who has consistently not been able to come through when needed: Right-handed relief pitcher Dellin Betances.
Betances, who has been named an All-Star in every season since 2014, has struggled to get batters out, finding the strike zone and ultimately keeping the ball in the park. While he isn’t the only reliever performing poorly early on, he is the most consistent when it comes to these types of outings and it’s been that way dating back to late last season.
In 2017, Betances finished the year with a 3-6 record, a 2.87 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 59.2 innings pitched. He made the All-Star team again and, on the whole, that isn’t a bad statistical season. But then the calendar turned to September.
Betances’ September included a 0-1 record, a 5.59 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 9.2 innings while allowing two home runs. His skid continued into October when the Yankees were in the playoffs.
In the American League Divisional Series against the Cleveland Indians, Betances went 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 3.0 innings pitched and in the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, he appeared in two games, only pitching one inning total and having a 9.00 ERA. On a positive note, he didn’t give up any home runs in the postseason.
It felt as if every game he came into, Betances had the crowd holding their breath and never feeling confident. So far in 2018 though, things are not looking any better.
This season, in 6.2 innings, Betances is 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA and has already given up 10 hits, three of which were home runs. Opponents are hitting .357 off of him thus far and fans are still anxious whenever he comes in with a lead, big or small.
In his last appearance, Betances came in for the bottom of the eighth with the Yankees up 8-3 on the Detroit Tigers. He got two outs and preserved the lead but along the way, he gave up three runs on five hits and had to be rescued by Chad Green.
The Yankees ultimately won the game, but Betances turned what should have been a big win over a bad Tigers team into a game where fans were left wondering if they’d be seeing yet another late-inning meltdown.
With all of that being said, should the Yankees weigh their options and consider letting go of Betances?
The short answer, yes.
The Yankees have big expectations, not just this year, but for years to come. Between high profile trades and a surplus of young talent, the Yankees are poised to be World Series contenders for a long time. That can’t happen if they keep waiting and seeing to see if Betances will begin to pitch like his old self. How many games can the team put in jeopardy just to see if he can find it again?
After a bitter arbitration case in early 2017, Betances and his representation showed disdain for the Yankees front office, more specifically, team president Randy Levine. It can be assumed that Betances will eventually walk away in free agency.
Before he gets the chance to do that, the team should look into dealing him. If a team is willing to take him on or if the Yankees think they can use him as a trade deadline move sweetener, they need to try it.
It’s a shame it’s come down to this. Betances, who grew up in New York City and attended Yankee games as a kid, was once touted as a future cornerstone of the franchise. While he had several stellar seasons with the team, this extended cold streak may be signaling it’s time for it to all come to an end and the Yankees should begin looking at a future without Dellin Betances.