Thursday night’s dismantling at the hands of Jose Ramirez and the Cleveland Indians raised questions about the Yankees’ pitching staff. Some have used it as an example to avoid employing an opener in the playoffs. While that is a topic for another day, one thing remains clear: the Yankees need as many quality arms available as possible. Dellin Betances’ return, in particular, will prove instrumental in a deep postseason run.
When healthy, the All-Star reliever has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. Few relievers have compiled a resume as impressive as Betances has. While the Yankees have been able to mask their injury-riddled lineup by mashing against the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays, gaping holes in the pitching staff aren’t as easy to cover.
As the season comes towards an end, the competition strengthens and weaknesses become more visible. The Yankees’ bullpen is already great with Adam Ottavino, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, and Aroldis Chapman picking up the slack, but a returning Betances adds another weapon. Imagine how the coaching staff could deploy that stacked bullpen. If there’s ever a situation where the starters have trouble, the Yankees could get five or six innings from their relievers.
Betances’ rehab continued on Thursday when the right-hander threw a bullpen session. Adding the flame-thrower into the mix is something that the team and fans should clamor for, because his presence would make for an impact upgrade, one the team failed to make at the trade deadline.
The sky is the limit with him, and Betances knows it. “This team’s done a helluva job to put us where we’re at right now, it’s been fun to watch them…the bullpen’s been unbelievable,’’ he said to Pete Caldera, “but I want to be battling with them.’’
The team wants him out there battling as well. Luis Cessa and Jonathan Holder have had their moments as fill-ins, but we’d be lying to ourselves if we didn't say that Betances provides a much-needed upgrade. He’d be especially useful as the Bombers try to contend with the likes of the Indians, Twins, or Astros in the postseason.
Outside of Domingo German, the team’s rotation proves questionable. Masahiro Tanaka seems to turn a switch whenever the bright lights of the postseason come on, amassing a 3-2 record with a 1.50 ERA, but J.A Happ, James Paxton and CC Sabathia haven't given the Yankees what they expected. Those short outings have made the team rely on the offense to score a lot of runs or the bullpen to eat up innings that the starters should have provided.
Coming back fully healthy from the shoulder and lat injuries that have sidelined him all season could give Betances a fresh perspective, one that ultimately may provide that extra spark and fire that this team needs to get over the hump. If that’s the case, who better to choose than number 68? Honestly, title 28 may depend on it.