There are still several weeks to go until Opening Day, but from the sounds of it, the Yankees already seem to have their plan for closer set. Jon Heyman, who is about as close to the Yankees as any national beat writer, tweeted that while the Yankees aren't definitively saying anything for sure yet, they will likely tab 2014 sensation Dellin Betances as their closer over free agent import Andrew Miller:
Yankees haven't said for sure but likelihood has betances as main closer, with miller/warren giving DB breaks.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) March 11, 2015
Neither pitcher has ever closed before and similarly, neither had ever really reached the heights they did in 2014 prior to that season, so it was considered a pretty wide competition to see who the Yankees would choose to succeed David Robertson at the back of the 'pen. There really wasn't a bad choice to be made between the righty Betances and the lefty Miller since they are both expected to have awesome seasons for the Yankees. Regardless of who was chosen, the Yankees would have a formidable bullpen.
There was some thought that the Yankees would make Miller the closer since they're already paying him a nice chunk of change for the next few years and Betances would make more in arbitration when he gets there as a closer than as a setup man. However, it's only fair that the Yankees make the decision of who should close based on who the best overall talent is, not whoever will save them some coin down the line. They have the wallets to pay for it--I don't think we'll be seeing Hal Steinbrenner panhandling anytime soon. (Although I would never put anything past ol' Hank if he breaks out from his underground lair.)
Some have also suggested that the Yankees go with neither Betances or Miller as the closer and instead use them in a more fluid role, entering the game in the most important situation regardless of inning. So the "closer" tag would be on Adam Warren, David Carpenter, or one of other bullpen arms. However, that simply was never going to happen.
I don't think there's a single manager in baseball who would refuse to use either his consensus best or second-best reliever as closer. It would be nice if we didn't care about the save statistic as much, but that's how relievers get paid these days, especially in arbitration, and even though they probably wouldn't get public with it, I can't imagine Miller or Dellin (or their agents) would be happy about that. More importantly, relievers really like knowing around which inning they're going to pitch. We can bandy all we want about how relievers should never be inextricably linked to an inning, but although occasional flexibility beyond "8th inning guy" and "9th inning guy" is definitely appreciated, I don't see anything wrong with adhering to the players' wishes most of the time. As long as they're willing to come in a little early every now and then to clean up a jam, it's fine.
Anyway, this is exciting news. It was a thrill to watch Betances in 2014, and I'm excited to see what he'll do in this new role in 2015. It's awesome that the tradition of homegrown closers from Mariano Rivera to D-Rob will now continue with Dellin. Go Dellin go