With the New York Yankees playing some incredible baseball this early in the season, Dellin Betances All-Star efforts cannot be overlooked.
Ever seen Major League? Of course you have. Charlie Sheen’s character, Ricky Vaughn, is referred to as “Wild Thing.” Well, he might as well be Dellin Betances.
Sheen’s character was known for throwing hard without any consistency, often throwing “juuuuuust a bit outside.” How many times has that same quote come to mind when watching the oft-wild Betances take the mound in the late innings?
But a miracle happens in Major League. As the season wears on and the confidence builds up (as well as a magical pair of glasses), Ricky Vaughn becomes absolutely unhittable.
Cue Dellin Betances. To put it lightly, he has struggled since back in July. Those struggles often saw him yanking fastballs and attempting to blow away hitters when, in actuality, he was throwing meatballs right down the middle or straight to the backstop. Those struggles carried over to the beginning of this season as well, when he finally got booed off the field at his home ballpark on April 24.
But he rose the challenge after that. The spurned Betances suddenly began to show flashes of his rookie season in pinstripes. In the three games following his rough outing against Minnesota, he threw three innings of one-hit ball while recording seven strikeouts.
And those performances came against incredibly talented teams. Betances came in on April 26 in a one-run game and shut the Twins down. Then he did so twice against the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros, pitching scoreless seventh innings two days in a row.
So what is the difference? Betances will always be Betances, trying to throw too hard and show off his incredible arm. However, in the last three games, we’ve witnessed confidence from Dellin Betances. It is a confidence that we have not seen from Dellin since his early days in 2013 in the Bronx.
How confident is he in his pitching? He’s becoming more confident in his fastball as the season goes by. Out of the 12 games he has appeared in, he has primarily used his fastball. When he uses his curveball more, things tend to go sideways a little bit quicker.
Need an example? According to Brooksbaseball.net, in Dellin Betances’ putrid performance against the Detroit Tigers where he allowed three runs in 0.2 innings pitched, Betances threw his curveball 75 percent of the time and got crushed. When he took the loss in his second game of the season in Toronto, Betances threw his curveball 70 percent of the time.
But when he’s on, it’s because he is utilizing that blazing fastball. In his past three dominating performances, the fastball was used 51.43 percent of the time, meaning his curveball was only being thrown 48.57 percent of the time.
Betances needs to continue to have confidence in that fastball because, in the past, he was just throwing it to impress with speed. Now, he’s actually locating it and it is paying off immensely.
Last season, his average fastball velocity was 98.36 and where did that get him? A 3-6 record. He has an average fastball velocity of 98.42 in 2016, where he also went 3-6 with a 3.08 ERA. This season, he’s averaging 97.62 MPH on his fastball. The last season where he had a similar average was in 2015 (97.69 MPH) when he posted a 6-4 record with a 1.50 ERA and 131 strikeouts.
Confidence in his speed is one thing. But he needs to have overall confidence in his fastball, locating it and moving it around the plate. He’s already started to do that with amazing results. Keeping up the confidence will allow him to truly emerge as a reliable bullpen arm once again.