I still find myself thinking back to the overwhelming anxiety I felt each time Dellin Betances took the mound last October.
His late season demise came as a shock considering the red hot start to his career in the Bronx. In his first three years wearing pinstripes, Betances was dominant, to say the least. Over the course of 247 innings pitches, he had a 1.93 ERA with 392 strikeouts compared to just 92 walks. Even after the mass exodus at the 2016 trade deadline, Betances was the last man standing of the three headed monster that was Miller-Betances-Chapman. Brian Cashman trusted Betances to finish the year as the team’s closer.
Betances got through most of 2017 on the right foot, making his fourth straight All Star Game. But then something happened. The dude could not throw a strike. There appeared to be no physical issues with him, nothing wrong with his mechanics either. It was all between the ears.
The dominant strikeout machine had turned into a wild card with no control. Each time he stepped on the mound almost certainty ended up with multiple runners on base. He lost his confidence. In the last five weeks of the regular season, Betances pitched 12.2 innings, posting a 5.68 ERA and allowing 11 walks, seven hits, and eight earned runs. Not what you want.
Joe Girardi, as well as most Yankee fans, had completely lost faith in Betances’ ability to get the job done come postseason time. He pitched just 4.0 innings in the playoffs and allowed two earned runs and five walks.
During the offseason, the Yankees and Betances avoided arbitration with a $5.1 million salary for 2018. Whether that is a good deal for the Yankees remains to be seen because nobody knows which Betances will show up.
According to the New York Post, Betances has lost 14 pounds and sounds motivated to right the ship. “I ate better and have more energy. My body feels good,” he said.
Will skinnier Dellin be better than heavier Dellin? Who knows. Maybe that new slim 264 pound figure will give him the confidence he was so desperately lacking last fall. If Betances does shake off the rough ending of last season, he can make the Yankees’ bullpen even more nightmarish than it already was.
On top of the weight loss, he did seem well aware that he has a lot to improve on. “I worked on repeating my delivery as much as I could, fastball command and throwing the breaking ball for strikes.’”
Betances did not get off on the right foot in his first spring appearance. He allowed a run, and still appeared to have some trouble with commanding the breaking ball. It is still extremely early, so I won’t overreact just yet. Hopefully Betances can settle into the dominant reliever we know he can be.