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Yankees 2015 Roster Report Card: Dellin Betances

Dellin was great again in 2015, but a disastrous September proves he's still only human.

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Grade: A

2015 Statistics: 1.50 ERA, 2.48 FIP, 14.0 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, 84.0 IP

2016 Contract Status: Pre-arbitration

Dellin is awesome. You don't need me to tell you; you already know that, but consider for a moment how it almost never happened. Once a highly-touted prospect, Dellin Betances flamed out in a big way only to be reborn in the bullpen. In 2014, he was the most valuable reliever in baseball, having a 1.40 ERA and 1.64 FIP in 90 innings over 70 games to make him worth 3.1 WAR. It seemed like he could have easily filled in as the closer after David Robertson left in free agency, but the Yankees decided to bring in Andrew Miller in order to free up Dellin for use over multiple innings before the ninth.

As good as he was in 2015, it really couldn't have been any better than what he already did the season before. That doesn't mean this season was in any way a disappointment, it's just a testament to how ridiculous 2014 was for him. One reason this year wasn't as magical was his control, which might always be something he has to stay on top of. He was able to keep it in check last year, but things ended up getting wild this year and he walked 4.29 batters per nine innings. Thankfully, he managed to pitch around his issues and maintained a great 1.50 ERA and 2.48 FIP with an even better 14.04 K/9 and was worth 2.4 WAR. He made it into four more games than he did last season, but he only threw 84.0 innings because he was rarely used to throw two complete innings in one game, like he was often asked to do in 2014.

Despite the cut in total innings, the Yankees' bullpen issues down the stretch only compounded when all the innings they had Dellin throw over the last two seasons finally caught up with him. His control wasn't the best this year, but it was really bad by September when it reached 6.48 BB/9. As I documented in a previous article, Dellin ran out of gas at the end of the season and his velocity crashed:

The hope is that he'll be completely fine with a few months off before getting back into the swing of things, but you don't really know when it comes to pitching injuries. One of the biggest causes of arm injuries in pitchers is pitching while fatigued, and it was clear that Betances was very tired by September. It might be a blessing in disguise that he didn't have to pitch that much longer by then because the Yankees need him in the backend of the bullpen for the next four years and if he kept going like he was, things might have gone very badly.

In 2016, as valuable as he is being able to come in for multiple innings, Joe Girardi might need to hold back a little more whenever possible. Of course, the Yankees are going to need stronger starting pitching and better middle relief for them to be able to do that, but Dellin's health is as good a reason as any to look into improving the pitching around him. He can carry the Yankees pretty far, but they can't break him.