Dellin Betances is back, baby! Well … that was fast. The giant on the mound returned to the field for the New York Yankees only to put a blow in their playoff plans by leaving again.
All that hard work to get back on the field and Betances was greeted by an uneven mound and an aching pain in his left foot. Isn’t that just the perfect irony considering how the Yankees season has been going?
This season has been anything but ordinary for the New York Yankees. With that being said, the postseason is likely to be much of the same, especially with Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated dropping a postseason hype article about the utilization of pitchers.
This postseason is going to be incredibly unique for this Yankees team. Unfortunately, it will be an October in which Betances will be sitting on the couch, watching his teammates pursue that elusive World Series title.
Even though Betances was only with the team for a short period of time, what he demonstrated was enough to make the squad miss him this postseason. Who knows what he would give to the team but Betances showed that he was ready to break back into that bullpen in a big way.
Although he didn’t quite have the speed behind his signature fastball, which is known to be one of the finest in the game, he made do with what he had and looked absolutely filthy.
Everyone knows that the best Dellin Betances is the one who is firing his 98-MPH fastball. Right? Talk about pressure if he can’t quite regain the speed he once had. But seeing this new Betances using his location and changing speeds, the Yankees are going to be missing him in October more than they would have expected.
“But he’s only thrown eight pitches,” you’ll say. “He hasn’t pitched all season, they don’t need him in the playoffs.”
Okay, I hear you all. I truly do. However, think about how nasty that bullpen would be once you add an addition like Betances, who is familiar with the Bronx in October.
Betances didn’t blow hitters away by throwing heat quite like the world is used to seeing but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Betances’ fastballs on Sunday topped out at 95 MPH but what he did well was mix speeds and hit his spots. That’s why he only threw eight pitches to two batters, striking out both looking.
Reese McGuire was his first victim and through the entire at-bat, he kept his pitches low. After four pitches, Betances struck out McGuire with a 95-mph fastball on the bottom outside corner.
Next came former teammate Brandon Drury. Known for being a pretty solid hitter, Betances made quick work of him, tossing two fastballs down the middle and freezing him with an 84-mph curveball.
Small sample size, to say the least, but it was encouraging for Betances. He isn’t trying to overthrow. In fact, he’s now trying to locate his spots and mix his pitches better. That would have been an encouraging sign moving into the playoffs.
He didn’t need to be the arm that tosses the most flames this postseason. He just needed to be different than other pitchers, throwing them off at each pitching change. Betances has always been used to being THE guy out of the ‘pen. Now, with the bullpen boasting a variety of talented arms, it was the perfect opportunity to find his own groove and focus on being the best Dellin for right now.
Last season, Dellin Betances started to sway that way, in terms of using his curveball more in conjunction with the fastball. His curveball usage jumped from 56.63% to 62.82% from October 2018 until October 2019, according to brooksbaseball.net.
In 2018, batters put up a putrid .126 BA against his curveball as well, eliciting a 17.62 whiff percentage, as opposed to 13.46 whiff percentage against his fastball.
So the fastball isn’t fully there and probably won’t be for next season. So what? Dellin Betances may be known for his fastball but that doesn’t represent all he is as a pitcher. But it seems like mixing his lesser fastball with his dominant curve might just be a perfect solution for his success.
This year? It’s not in the cards. But the Yankees are going to miss him this postseason.