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Minor League Mondays: The Pen

Mood Music - You Can't Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones

As you may have seen yesterday, the New York Yankees have promoted fireballing right-hander Dellin Betances to AAA.  John Nalbone from recapped Betances' time in AA and provided some thoughts on what the rest of the season might hold for him:

He was able to pitch around trouble during the first half, and at one time led the league in ERA. But Betances departs Trenton with an average of 4.7 walks per-nine innings, and an ERA nearly double what it was after his first 11 starts (1.76).

Sources in New York insist Betances, along with his good friend and former Thunder teammate Manny Banuelos, will join the Yankees after rosters expand Sept. 1.

Betances threw a gem his last time out (7 IP - 1 ER - 6 K), and I hope he can carry his success on to AAA, but I have to really question the advisability of putting him in the pen for the stretch run.  Before the inevitable comparison, when the Yankees caught lightning in a bottle with Joba Chamberlain in 2007, a) Joba was lighting up the minor leagues, and b) the Yankees bullpen was awful.

In 2007, outside of Mariano Rivera and the 24 late innings of Joba, Yankees relievers combined for -0.9 WAR, with important innings being pitched by the likes of Scott Proctor, Brian Bruney, Kyle Farnsworth, Ron Villone, Mike Myers, and Luis Vizcaino.  The bridge to Rivera was a complete disaster, so using Joba for the stretch run made sense.

The 2011 bullpen is not a disaster; it has been one of the biggest strengths of the team.  With David Robertson and Rafael Soriano entrenched in the 7th and 8th inning roles and solid middle relief showings from Cory Wade and Luis Ayala, where exactly does a combustible rookie fit on the Binder's depth chart?  Maybe the sixth best option for a righty reliever?

With the way that Girardi likes to play matchups, especially in the playoffs, I could see Manny Banuelos being able to make a contribution out of the pen, and maybe that's worth a shot, but I just don't see it with Betances.  Get him up to 130-150 innings, shut him down, and let him travel with the team once the minor league season ends.

Finally, some things that may not have circulated the inter-google: Gary Sanchez is out for the season with a hand injury.  David Phelps has made two rehab starts in the Gulf Coast League and is yet to give up an earned run (7 IP).