Thursday, May 16, 2013

Betances Joins Bullpen Shuffle

Yankees fans have heard about Dellin Betances' potential ever since the 6'8" hard throwing right-hander was selected in the 8th round of the 2006 MLB amateur draft. Unfortunately, he has struggled to meet the expectations and was recently converted from a starting pitcher to a full-time reliever. Despite pitching just twice in the pen this season, Betances has been recalled by the Yankees to join their bullpen.

The Yankees needed another reliever after Brett Marshall threw 108 pitches and Preston Claiborne pitched 2.1 innings in mopping up the mess Phil Hughes created against Seattle on Wednesday night. The Yankees were hopeful that Joba Chamberlain would be ready to come off the DL, but his oblique injury is apparently still an issue.

The decision to move Betances to the bullpen for good came after the 25-year old allowed 16 earned runs and walked 16 batters in 24 innings (six starts) at Triple-A Scranton. In his two relief appearances since then Betances has allowed one run in 4.1 innings pitched, walked just one batter and struck out four.

Despite his control issues, Betances worked his way up the minor league chain. I was at his Double-A debut for Trenton in 2010 and saw the good and the bad of his game. I recall him missing the catcher's target, his ability to blow his fastball by batters, an awkardness that led to two throwing errors on pickoff attempts, and an intimidating presence on the mound. But his ability and the sound of his pitches popping in catcher Austin Romine's glove sent an electricity through the crowd, quite a few of whom were friends and family of the Big Apple native.

Betances got a late September call up in 2011 and made a less than an impresssive debut against Tampa Bay. He allowed a pair of runs and walked four in just two-thirds of an inning. Six days later he faced the Rays again and pitched two scoreless innings with a walk and a hit allowed and struck out two.

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