Mariano Rivera is retired, Boone Logan signed with the Colorado Rockies, and Joba Chamberlain will be hanging sliders and leaving fastballs over the heart of the plate for the Detroit Tigers in 2014. That’s three of the five New York Yankees relievers who pitched in the most games in 2013, one of which is the greatest closer of all time.
Indeed, the Yankees’ bullpen will feature some new faces and some old faces in new roles next season. David Robertson is (rightfully) a lock to take over the closer role, while Shawn Kelley will likely inherit eighth inning duties. Preston Claiborne and Cesar Cabral will also have increased workloads in middle relief. Furthermore, the losers of the fifth starter competition between Michael Pineda, Vidal Nuno, David Phelps and Adam Warren could see work out of the pen.
In addition to all these names, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that there’s one other pitcher in particular who the Yankees hope will become a stalwart reliever in 2014.
Dellin Betances will be 26 years old by the start of next season. The 6-foot-8 right-hander made his Major League debut in 2011, but only lasted two games in the Bigs, posting a 6.75 ERA in 2.2 innings pitched.
After struggling with command, he was moved to the bullpen at the start of 2013. The move seemed to work – in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre he went 6-4 with a 2.68 ERA, 1.119 WHIP and 108 strikeouts in 84 innings pitched. His dominant campaign earned him a September call-up.
Yet again, Betances performed poorly in the Majors, allowing six earned runs in five innings pitched (on the bright side, he also struck out 10). It doesn’t bode well that the Yankees will rely on a guy who has struggled so much in the Show to provide a power arm in relief. Then again, Robertson performed miserably in his brief tryout at closer in 2012 and the Yankees are still going to trust him with the final three outs of every game.
There was also another Yankee pitcher who struggled as a starter in the mid-1990′s before finding his niche in the bullpen. It’s the same guy who just had a season-long farewell as the greatest closer in baseball history — Mariano Rivera.