There was a time when Dellin Betances stood on the mound, spinning sliders and fastballs that crushed hitters. All that’s gone, so what now?
Dellin Betances is damaged goods, and by now, the Mets know it. They owe him $6 million this season, a sum that is not going to make or break the team.
But after continuing the trend seen during Spring Training with his first appearance of the season two days ago (more on that in a minute), it’s becoming increasingly clear, Dellin Betances is not the dominant relief pitcher he once was with the Yankees when his strikeouts to innings pitched ratio was off the charts (Table).
Those All-Star stats with the Yankees extended from 2014 -2018, whereupon Dellin Betances went down with a season-ending injury in 2019.
The Mets Take A Reasonable Flyer On Betances
Pitchers, especially those of the caliber of Dellin Betances, usually brush off their first significant arm surgery, engage in the tortuous but necessary rehab, and in some cases come back better than new.
Knowing that, the Mets took a reasonable “flyer” on Betances, seeing him as an important piece of a faltering bullpen. The Mets agreed to a $13.5 million contract that will extend through the 2021 season. After that, the Mets have a buy-out option of $1 million for 2022.
But here’s the real deal. The Mets threw their line in the pond looking for a big fish – and they have yet to reap any of the rewards from signing Dellin Betances.
Today, Dellin Betances sits teetering on the Mets 10-day IL with a likely chance that’ll soon become the 60-day IL – and from there goes what?
On thin ice throughout Spring Training, Betances and the Mets played the game. He’s going to be fine; he’s still on the mend from surgery, we’re good – the Mets kept saying.
Dellin Betances Can’t Say “What He’s Done Lately”
But what happened two days ago in his first season outing is real and can’t be ignored. Betances was brought into a game against the Phillies that was all but lost, pitching one inning before retiring to the IL.
The Betances line for that game shows one inning pitched with nine strikes thrown over 21 pitches to five batters, a base-on-balls, and a hit batter.
However, of most concern is the radar gun topping out at 91-92 when Betances was regularly hitting 95-96 with his fastball and a down and in, a slider at 91-92.
Is it over for Betances, and is he one of those pitchers who never quite bounce back from arm surgery, or is he worth a further look at by the Mets?
Betances And The Mets Timeline
For a team holding a spot on their 40-man roster at the beginning of a season in which they are dedicated to being contenders in the NL East, at what point do the Mets make a move to count Betances out and Pitcher X in?
Trevor Hildenberger has been called up to replace Betances, but is he the long-term substitute the Mets will need for the remainder of the season?
Sandy Alderson will be evaluating and working on that, but if his plan includes hope and a prayer, Dellin Betances will bounce back to help the Mets this year; I’d rather bet that Congressman Matt Gaetz never had sex with an under-age woman.
These things happen, and often it’s only a matter of a team saying, “Oops, we goofed,” which in this case should be relatively easy considering the Wilpon regime’s digestion of Betances’s contract at the hands of Brodie Van Wagen and not anything to do with this regime.
Dellin Betances: Is It In His Head Or His Arm?
Beyond the Mets, though and the decisions at their doorstep regarding Betances, is Dellin Betances himself – mentally ready to play another setback out?
We know of the discord that occurred with the Yankees when Yankees president Randy Levine intervened in an arbitration hearing that led to Betances taking a bewildering loss at the table.
That episode hurt Dellin Betances, and it’s only a matter of conjecture as to whether or not he “got over it.”
In any event, Betances is a New York Met now and is under their province as to what’s better for the team and for him to do at this juncture of his baseball career.
With Seth Lugo still on the mend, the Mets are short in their bullpen.
Is there a team out there, like the Mets, who are ready to invest (meaning possibly assuming a portion of his salary this year) in a trade that allows the Mets to find a replacement as the season moves along?
The Oakland A’s, who lost their closer, Trevor Rosenthal, for the year, might be a good place for the Mets to start in looking for a team that might be interested in Betances.
Dellin Betances: The Human Side Of Baseball
We only know what we see in the 2021 version of Dellin Betances. At 33, the time has crept by, and there are few more “tomorrows.”
I make no projections as to what the Mets will do with Dellin Betances, except to say it was a nice ride for a while, especially with the Yankees, and maybe it’s time for both sides to part ways with a handshake and good fortune elicited to Betances as both sides move onto their next journey.
Sometimes in baseball, these things just don’t work out, but we’ll see.
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