Yankees reliever, Dellin Betances, is no longer a 6 ft 8 in 265 lb overgrown boy. He’s now a full grown man who turned 30 last month. He should be in the prime of his major league career but has yet to blossom. The Yankees have been patient with him, but that patience must be wearing thin.
Dellin Betances never looked better than he did in the photo above when he reported to Spring Training lighter and loose, and ready to conquer the world as a mainstay in the Yankees bullpen.
But the most telling event in the seven years Dellin Betances had worn a Yankees uniform occurred when the franchise bully of the team, Randy Levine, did what all bullies do, picking on the weakest prey he could find during an arbitration “dispute” in 2016.
Yankees fans will recall the incident involved the amount of money separating (at the end it was about $1 million) Betances from what the team offered, and his agent wanted during Betances first year of arbitration.
Levine stepped in, though seemingly prompted by no one, proclaiming Betances demand to be “over the top” and based on “very little sense of reality.” Levine couldn’t stop his ego trip and went on say Betances case was “like me saying I’m not the president of the Yankees, I’m an astronaut.”
Following the dispute, Randy Levine crawled back into his hole in the ground, but Dellin Betances had to go out and pitch as though nothing had happened. No one knows, and I certainly don’t pretend to know what was going on the head of Betances as he approached last season, but there has been a marked change in both the demeanor of Betances on the mound and the resulting stats he has produced for the Yankees.
Yankees manager, Aaron Boone, has called on Dellin Betances six times this season. In those six appearances, the Yankees have won two and lost four. The strikeouts are still there at a rate of almost two for every inning pitched. But more telling is the 8.10 ERA Betances has posted along with only 60 percent of his pitches landing in the strike zone. Even more telling, is that only 16 percent of his pitches have gone as swinging strikes, something Betances lived on with his devasting slider previously.
Throw all the cliches out there – it’s early, and he’ll bounce back, his upside is so high we have to keep sending him out there, he says he feels great, and so on. But at what point do the Yankees sit down with this player and say, “Dellin, this isn’t working out, and we need to do something here.”
Betances reminds so much of Joba Chamberlain, a big-ole farm boy with not much going for him except a 95 MPH fastball that was fast in those days. The Yankees kicked him around in the early part of his career, eventually leading to an inevitable parting of the ways when Chamberlain could not gain traction with the Yankees either as a consistent starter or reliever.
Whereas the phone in Brian Cashman’s office was probably ringing off the hook two years ago, the interest of other teams in Betances, should the Yankees go that route, has probably subsided. But it hasn’t completely gone away (yet).
A better option, though, might be to give Betances a hefty dose of the treatment the New York Mets delivered to one of their problem children when they sent Zack Wheeler down to Triple-A Las Vegas earlier this spring. Wheeler’s demotion came with a firm message from Mickey Callaway telling him (paraphrasing), “Zack, everyone on this team is accountable, and you are no exception. Go down there, show us what we know you can do, and come back soon to help this team.” And that’s precisely what’s happened.
Dellin Betances, more than anything, needs a good kick in the butt. I don’t see it coming from Larry Rothschild, who by now must feel like he’s talking to the wall, but Aaron Boone as the great communicator the Yankees hired needs to deliver the message, loud and clear.
Time is running out on Dellin Betances. He’s primarily been on a pleasure ride, always included on the Yankees 25-man roster without much question.
A wake-up call of some fashion is in order. And yes, it’s true. The upside of Dellin Betances goes far beyond his performance thus far in the season. But the Yankees are a team in the hunt, and they cannot afford to wait for anyone on the team to catch up with them.