It is no secret that fantasy baseball owners can be very reluctant to roster any relief pitcher who is not a closer. However, every now and then, a late-inning reliever performs at a level that is hard to ignore, and can help you in a myriad of statistics other than saves. Perhaps no one is a better example in 2014 than New York Yankees setup man Dellin Betances.
Betances has been spectacular this season, and at 26 years of age, is likely the Yankees’ long-term answer as closer. He is 4-0 with a stellar 1.50 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and has struck out 76 batters in 48 innings pitched — good for an incredibly efficient 14.3 K/9.
In fairness, manager Joe Girardi has used Betances in save opportunities when current closer David Robertson was unavailable, and his only bad performances of the season came in those outings as he has blown a few saves — but Betances will still get an occasional save opportunity, and it is only a matter of time before he converts his first of the season.
The Yankees have struggled as of late, and while it is not likely, it is also not inconceivable that the club could trade Robertson if their record plummets and they start to fall out of contention. Robertson is 29, becomes an unrestricted free-agent for the first time this coming offseason and will be expecting a big pay day. If the Yankees were to move Robertson, Betances would undoubtedly become the team’s full-time option.
Currently, Betances is owned in only 44.7 percent of leagues on ESPN, and 45 percent on Yahoo! — meaning the majority of fantasy owners are still ignoring his prowess for strikeouts. You should not.