Fatigue seems to be setting in for New York Yankees closer Dellin Betances, who has struggled in four of his last five appearances.
Despite what fans had previously thought, Dellin Betances seems to be a human man. The Yankees closer was responsible for the team’s second straight soul-crushing late-inning loss Thursday night against the Boston Red Sox despite entering in the bottom of the ninth with a comfortable 5-2 lead and one out.
Betances replaced Blake Parker after the righty hit Chris Young with a pitch. Yankees manager Joe Girardilater told reporters that the plan was to try and play the matchups to get through the ninth, but if one runner reached base, they would turn to their best reliever given the importance of every game this month.
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Betances walked his first batter, but things looked much more manageable when they nabbed Young coming home on a fielder’s choice for the second out. With one on, two outs, and a three run lead, fans breathed a sigh of relief.
Some of the credit has to go to Boston’s tremendous offense. They have the most formidable lineup in the league, especially at the top. To a certain extent, Betances just got beat.
At the same time, this is nothing new. The 28-year-old right-hander has now allowed nine runs in his last four innings. Something is clearly not right.
One fact that jumps out is that with 69 games pitched this year, Betances is tied for the American League lead. Trading away Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman at the deadline left the big man as Joe Girardi’s only true shutdown option. Yes, he hasn’t reached his innings totals from the last two seasons, but that does not mean his workload isn’t starting to catch up with him.
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No reliever in baseball has thrown more innings than Dellin Betances’s 244, and it isn’t even close. Next in line is Jeurys Familia with 223.2 IP. Only 12 pitchers have made it to the 200 mark in that span. Betances is a big burly workhorse, but he’s not exactly a kid anymore and eventually the team will have to start being more careful with his innings.
To his credit, Betances does not make any excuses for himself. When asked if fatigue has played a factor for him recently, he answered, “No. Whenever I get the ball, that’s not an excuse for me. I just have to make better pitches.”
Girardi has been using the rejuvenated Tyler Clippard to set up Betances, but notably, none of the team’s young pitchers seemed to have earned the skipper’s trust as of yet.
Two guys who stand out as potential late-game weapons are rookies Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder, who were simply dominant in Triple-A this year. A handful of rocky outings have seemingly pushed them to the back end of the bullpen, but they will eventually need another chance to prove themselves.
Holder hasn’t pitched in more than a week and Heller has only been allowed four innings since his late August promotion. The Yankees manager is going to need to step out of his comfort zone and trust some of these kids if New York is going to stay in this race. I love Betances as much as anyone, but he is clearly breaking down at this point. It’s time to explore other options.