Joe Girardi gave Dellin Betances another shot late in Game 3 on Monday night, when a Yankee win was safely in the bag. It was the right idea by Girardi, and his attempt to get Betances back in a groove was at the perfect time. If there was a time to get the four-time All-Star back to his dominant self, it was with an 8-0 lead in the ninth.
It may have been the perfect time to get Betances some work, but it was also the final straw in what should be the end of Betances’ season.
Betances was nowhere near the strike zone for the two batters he faced, and promptly walked both batters before Girardi had seen enough and had to turn to the more reliable arm in Tommy Kahnle on a night where the big guns in the bullpen should have gotten a night off. Kahnle did the job and the Yankees got the win, but lost a reliever in the process, and it wasn’t to injury. Betances simply cannot be used the rest of the way.
The struggles of Betances are as disappointing as they are maddening. He looked untouchable during his time as closer when Aroldis Chapman was out with an injury, which landed him on the All-Star team for the fourth straight season. After a period of struggles before the All-Star break, Betances looked back to form for most of July and August before crashing back down in September. Betances’ stuff is undeniable, but so is his inconsistency.
Monday night showed that Betances doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to regaining his command. His 6.52 walks per nine innings since September 1st shows that is has been an extended struggle to get his control back, and may need to be something that is addressed in the offseason.
The performance by Betances in the first two games of the ALDS make his case even more curious. He struck out the side in Game 1 and looked absolutely dominant. He looked effective in Game 2 before fatigue set in during extra innings. Sure, that version of Betances is still there, and can resurface at any time, but it’s not worth the risk against a lineup like the Astros.
The quality of work by the rest of the bullpen should ensure that Girardi doesn’t need to toy with Betances any longer. Kahnle has been superb this postseason, and David Robertson is doing his thing in October. Chapman’s regular season funk appears to be behind him, and Chad Green has proven his reliability. Along with Adam Warren back and healthy, and getting some work in on Monday night, the Yankees have enough in the bullpen to get by without risking another implosion by Betances.
It would not be a shock at all if Betances came back in 2018 and was unhittable. His breaking ball is filthy and his fastball is blazing. Unfortunately, that doesn’t matter when they are nowhere near the strike zone. Maybe his big 6’8’’ frame is hard to keep in line mechanically over the course of an entire season. The root of his struggles are difficult to figure out, but it should no longer be a difficult decision to leave Betances out of the picture for the rest of the postseason.