It’s clear to say that Dellin Betances struggled last postseason with the New York Yankees. After Wednesday night’s performance in the Bronx, we’re all singing a different tune.
While he appeared in the flesh, his performance was not even close to the dominating righty who blew opponents away and represented the Yankees in All-Star games every season. Instead, Betances had lost his touch.
But that was last postseason. This postseason has only just begun but already the outcome for Betances looks to be far more promising.
During Wednesday night’s AL Wild Card game against the Oakland Athletics, Aaron Boone made the surprising call to bring in Betances in the top of the fifth inning, a role he is not terribly familiar with. Not only that, but Boone signaled him in with runners on and no outs.
In this moment, fans all over the world held their breath, questioning Boone’s decision to bring in a pitcher who statistically struggles with runners lurking on base.
And Betances delivered in dominating fashion. Not did he retire the next three A’s to end the threat, he retired Matt Chapman, Jed Lowrie and the dangerous Khris Davis, Oakland’s 2-3-4 trio.
But that wasn’t all that Betances did that afternoon. Many assumed his night was over after a perfect fifth but Boone sent him out for the sixth. Again, the displeasure around this move was clearly voiced, seeing as how every time Betances has gone beyond one inning of work this season, he’s given up at least one run.
And again, Betances excelled. If anything, he looked even sharper in his second inning of work, retiring all three with two strikeouts. Altogether, Betances struck out three and didn’t allow a walk or a hit.
While it’s a small sample size, what we saw from Betances on Wednesday night fills fans with some excitement. He did two things he hasn’t been able to do all season long: come in with runners on and pitch multiple innings.
This type of performance has to be a confidence booster for Betances. Boone trusts him enough to be the first one to call out of the ‘pen in a do-or-die game while Joe Girardi avoided using Betances at all costs during the 2017 postseason.
“I’ve been waiting on this moment for a long time,” Betances told reporters after Wednesday’s game, per the New York Daily News. “I was just excited to do it in front of my hometown. Last year I missed out so I was just happy to get back out there.”
That is the sound of a player who is regaining his confidence and ready to give it all for his team. Maybe Boone just showing confidence in his pitcher was enough to give Betances the push he needed to turn back into that pitcher that made opponents quiver just a few seasons ago.
And fans should take notice. This is not a one-time showing from the flame-throwing righty. This is the start of a resurgence for Dellin Betances and the beginning of what could be a very memorable playoff for him.
Last year was a challenge that Betances was not ready to face. This year? He’s more than prepared, making this bullpen even more terrifying for opponents.
A strong Betances is a weapon that was not available last postseason. Adding that to the mix gives the Yankees a huge advantage moving into the ALDS against the Sox.
Dellin Betances is back? Indeed he is, in all his filthy glory. So step into the batter’s box, Red Sox. Betances will be on and confident moving forward.