Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dellin Betances: Bright spot in gloomy season

The New York Yankees have had a rotten season by many team’s standards, let alone their own 'win a championship every year' motto. But, amid the gloom was a very bright spot, one that was pretty unlikely; the emergence of Dellin Betances.

Betances etched his name into the Yankees’ record book by striking out two batters in Wednesday’s game versus the Tampa Bay Rays. The strikeouts brought his season total to 132, surpassing the great Mariano Rivera’s 130 K’s established in 1996.

Betances took just 87.2 innings to accomplish the feat, while Rivera tossed 107.2. Some more numbers on Betances that are simply mind-blowing.

Just two seasons ago the Yankees had no idea what to do with Betances as he faltered as a starter. They decided to put his powerful arm to use as a reliever. He had some success in 2013 with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but he still had to fight for a spot on the 25-man roster.

He had a fantastic spring and received a spot, but even in April it was undefined. Betances, rather matter-of-factly, went about his business. He put out fires on a regular basis and began to elevate his role in the bullpen. It became evident early on this could be a special season for Betances.

As he climbed the depth chart and piled on the strikeouts, it was easy to begin to make comparisons to Rivera. Betances was able to throw multiple innings, dominate batters and produce fantastic results.

For this reason, many are wondering if Betances will be the next Yankees’ closer as David Robertson becomes a free agent this fall.

This is not as clear cut as it seems. While Betances can certainly handle the role in my estimation, the Yankees are not blessed with great setup relievers behind him. If they maintain Robertson’s services, he’d be making a great deal of money and would surely be placed in the closer role because of it.

In my view, the Yankees should let Robertson walk and take their chances on the free-agent market with a setup reliever and hope that person and one or two arms from the system fill Betances’ late-inning spot.

Imagine how effective Betances, who turns 27 in March, might be as a closer? He’d be able to get the four, five or even six-out saves that Robertson cannot, and if he’s limited to fewer innings, it only helps his longevity and likely his effectiveness.

Betances might not grow into the same caliber reliever as Rivera, but for the moment he can be compared to him after their first full seasons in the big leagues. It’s not difficult to see how Betances can be a major factor in the Yankees’ future success.

Dellin Betances was a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy Yankees’ season, and has the potential to have a superstar career.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.