You’ve got a guy on first and second with two outs. It’s the fifth inning of a clinching playoff game. Do you go to the pen, or do you play with fire? That Dellin Betances guy might be able to help.
In crucial games that can end with one swing of the bat, you can’t worry about who is rested or theorize if a guy is going to make it through the game intact. Baseball is a world obsessed with ace performances and how deep a guy can go into a game, but no matter how good someone is, the worst hitters can go yard against the best pitcher at any time. Especially a pitcher who’s physically and mentally taxed.
Obviously there’s no point risking it and, if you have a bullpen like the Yankees, you absolutely make that call.
Larry: “Hold on boss-man. What you’re telling me is it’s runs and not points?”
This is why a weapon like Dellin Betances is so key for the Yankees to make a deep run in the playoffs. This team can shorten games now, but if you add him, these games get even shorter. Opposing teams used to have 8 innings to win a ballgame because of Mariano Rivera. Now, the game can be made even shorter if our top guys are on. The Yankees may soon have the potential for a five headed monster with Chapman, Britton, Ottavino, Kahnle and hopefully Betances.
The real Dellin Betances?
It’ll be a crap shoot which Dellin Betances we get, or if we even get him at all. That’s the thing with being out most of the year. Nothing is guaranteed. Let’s assume though that he’s on par with what he was last year. Bringing him out in a big game to supplement a starter can be an ace performance in itself.
Case in point with the 2018 Wild Card game against Oakland. Luis Severino going four innings isn’t that sexy when looking at the box score. Add Betances though, as Boone did that game, and we got ourselves a combined quality start:
6 IP, 0 ER, 10 K’s, 2 H, 0 BB
That 2018 playoff run was so drab, we forget just how good Betances was. Just look at him in the game in which the Yankees were eliminated in the ALDS. Super clutch moment against Andrew Benintendi:
Now in case anybody forgot about Dellin Betances, let’s run through what he did last year. After losing the heart of who he was just a year prior, his 2018 season was nothing short of elite.
Just look at where he stood in the league. It’s insane when you really just sit down and look through it:
Expected Batting AVG:.170 (Top 1%)
Actual Opponent AVG:.186
K%:42.3% (Top 1%)
Hard Hit %:27.8% (Top 5%)
AVG Exit Velocity: 84.7 MPH (Top 4%)
Other than Betances’ four seam fastball, his two main pitches were his curve, which he used 35.2% of the time, and his slider, which he used 16.9% of the time. Each of these pitches was utterly devastating. Maybe calling the results elite is an understatement.
Video Courtesy of Baseball Savant
62 Plate Appearances
Video courtesy of Baseball Savant
88 Plate Appearances
Expected Slugging: .100
One of the more important things the Yankees will look at is where Dellin Betances will fit into the bullpen. Him coming back does two things: one, Betances is awesome so he has the potential to mow souls down; and two, we won’t have to see jobbers* in big situations.
*Jobber (Ubran Dictionary): The act of losing is called jobbing and a frequent loser is referred to as a jobber. It is a mark of disrespect to refer to a wrestler as a jobber, as it implies they are a failure in their career. The term has entered into popular culture, to mean a loser or someone who is worthless, as well as its Italian equivalent, jabroni, a phrase that was made popular by The Rock.
A little while back, Rohan Arcot here at the Bronx Pinstripes wrote about leverage and bullpen use. One of the points he brought up is how there were guys coming out of the pen in big spots who, well, didn’t belong there.
Here is how Rohan defined leverage as it pertains to this chart below: “An LI of 1.0 is an average situation. Anything below 1.0 is low leverage, and anything above is considered high leverage.”
The only thing you need to care about is the highlighted row. As you can see here, two guys who have been used in high leverage situations that are probably better suited for other roles are Jonathan Holder and Chad Green. We’ve all cried about Holder enough this season and Green is just not somebody I personally trust coming out of the pen. (Okay, he had an awesome game in Oakland but, coming out in relief, do we still trust him?)
As an opener, other than one game recently, I have faith in Green. It’s just hard to give him my full trust if it’s the 7th or 8th inning. Chad Green has broken my heart before.
If you add Betances into the mix, all that means is we’re seeing less of a Green or Holder. We’ll also see see less of Stephen Tarpley and Nestor Cortes. Hopefully the end result is seeing more of a guy who, other than a weird time in 2017 and a month in 2018, has been one of the better relievers in the league. I guess all we can do now is cross our fingers and knock on every piece of wood we pass by.