Yankees fans have been very spoiled for a long time when it comes to trusting the relievers that come in to protect a lead in the final innings to secure a victory. We've had the pleasure of watching Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera be the best closer that MLB has ever seen, followed by a very impressive season from David Robertson as closer after Rivera's retirement. One factor that may have influenced the team's decision to let Robertson go at the end of 2014 was the emergence of Dellin Betances as one of the best relievers in Baseball. He has picked up right where he left off so far in 2015, and he has a new partner at the back of the bullpen who has been every bit as good in Andrew Miller. They, more than anyone else, deserve to represent the Yankees at this year's All-Star Game.
Life without Rivera probably shouldn't have been this easy, but have enjoyed having two players at the top of their game who can come in an absolutely slam the door on opponents. Miller signed a four-year deal with the Yankees after having never closed out games for any of his previous teams, but he has converted every single chance he's had this season. A walk-off home run to Ryan Zimmerman is the lone blemish on Miller's record this season, while Betances still hasn't allowed a single earned run. Betances recently polished off a bullpen no-hitter by sitting down 27 straight opponents in relief. It doesn't carry the same significance that a normal no-hitter would, but it is still incredibly impressive.
Betances is currently second on the team in WAR, having already accumulated the same amount as Jacoby Ellsbury and Alex Rodriguez. Miller isn't very far behind him with 0.7 WAR. They are both currently striking out batters at a +14 K/9 rate, and, due to the Yankees' insistence on close games on a regular basis, they both have pitched more than 20 innings to this point in the season. Having this duo come in for one inning each would be special enough, but their versatility that allows them to pitch more than one inning when necessary has just made them even more of an asset.
The Yankees may very well get shut out of having any position players starting this year's All-Star Game. Their biggest chance lies with Alex Rodriguez making it in as the American League's DH representative, and that is an incredible long shot because of Nelson Cruz's tremendous start in Seattle. Michael Pineda will probably make the team if he can continue to pitch like he did when he struck out nearly everyone he faced against the Orioles, but he'll need less ugly outings like the one he had against the Rangers to gain consideration in the competitive field. One thing is certain, though. Miller and Betances should both represent the Yankees in the game. Not one or the other, but both. They have done everything to show they are worthy to this point in the season, and the Yankees are truly fortunate that they get to have them for seasons to come. I think they can share with the American League for a chance at home field advantage in the World Series for just one night, though. Who else could you want closing out the game?
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