Ten memorable moments of Dellin Betances's career so far

Dellin Betances is one of the best relief pitchers in the MLB and with his 95-99 mph fastball and filthy knuckle curve, he’s been absolutely unhittable in 2016 and he has formed the best 1-2 duo in the 8th and 9th innings with Yankees closer Andrew Miller. Once Aroldis Chapman returns, if the Yankees have the lead after six innings, Yankee fans can just turn off their televisions. He’s my favorite player on the current New York Yankees team and I hope to one day see him pitch in person. Ever since he stepped onto the rubber for his 2014 season debut on Opening Day at Houston, he’s struck out 286 batters in just 182 innings (1.57 K/IP), accumulating an 11-5 record, with 54 holds and 10 saves in 152 outings. This season, he’s already struck out 20 batters in just 8.0 innings. Here are ten of his most memorable moments in his career (these are not in order of #1 being best or anything like that) so far, and if I missed any, please tweet at the BBB here.

Picture Credit: Anthony Causi/New York Post
Moment #1 (May 15, 2014): Betances strikes out 6 in a row in 2.1 IP against the New York Mets at Citi Field in Queens.
In the final game of a home-and-home 4-game series (2 in The Bronx, 2 in Queens) in Queens, Dellin Betances entered in a scoreless game and with two outs in the 5th inning, replacing Chase Whitley, who made his MLB debut that night. Betances faced Eric Young Jr., and with a 1-1 count, Betances threw a 95 mph fastball on the lower inner half of the plate and Young grounded out to Kelly Johnson at third. Inning over and threat over. Then, Betances casually struck out the next 6 batters in a row. First, it was Daniel Murphy, who swung and missed at a 1-2 knuckle curve. Then, he proceeded to strike both David Wright and Curtis Granderson out looking with, once again, 1-2 knuckle curves. In the 7th, Betances came back out and promptly struck out Chris Young on a 1-2 knuckle curve. After throwing a ball to Lucas Duda to start the at-bat, he threw three straight knuckle curves for strikes, and Duda looked at all three of them without even swinging. Betances completed his flawless outing with a strikeout of Ruben Tejada on yet another 83 mph knuckle curve. He managed to make 6 straight Mets batters look completely clueless.

Moment #2 (June 17, 2015): Betances makes Giancarlo Stanton look foolish in an interleague matchup with the Miami Marlins.
After Andrew Miller went on the disabled list on June 9 of last season, Dellin Betances took over as the closer. In the third game of a home-and-home interleague series (2 in Miami, 2 in The Bronx) in Yankee Stadium, Betances entered in the 9th to try and close out the game with the Yankees leading 2-1. After Christian Yelich grounded out to Didi Gregorius, Marlins DH/RF (DH as the game was in an American League park) Giancarlo Stanton stepped up to the plate. By that game, which was the Marlins’ 65th game of the year, Stanton already had 24 HRs and 62 RBIs. Betances had to be careful if he did not want Stanton tying the game with one swing. He used a 84 mph knuckle curve to start off the at-bat. Called strike one. He then went 99 mph up tight on the right-handed Stanton. Ball one. After Stanton swung at the next pitch, an 85 mph knuckle curve for strike two, Betances came back with another knuckle curve for a called strike three, this time at 84 mph, that caused Stanton to not only buckle his knees but to walk back to the Marlins dugout sheepishly and completely embarrassed. Betances went on to to allow a walk and a single, but struck out Jeff Mathis to get his 4th save of the year.

Moment #3 (August 5, 2014): Betances uses a 100 mph fastball to strike out Miguel Cabrera in a critical matchup against the Detroit Tigers.
On an early August night in The Bronx, the Yankees faced off against the Detroit Tigers, who sported a 62-48 record entering into the game. Miguel Cabrera, batting over .310 coming into the game with 17 home runs and 83 RBIs, looked to give the Tigers the lead with one swing of the bat as he came up to bat in the 8th inning with the game tied at 3. Dellin Betances had just entered the game at the start of the 8th, and had retired the first two batters, Rajai Davis and Ian Kinsler, by groundout and strikeout. Betances quickly fell behind Cabrera to a 2-0 count, first with a 86 mph knuckle curve and then a 100 mph fastball. Then, he turned it around. First, he threw a 84 mph knuckle curve on the lower outside of the plate to get Cabrera to swing and miss. Cabrera was definitely looking for a fastball to drive to the short porch in right and was fooled. On the 2-1 pitch, Betances then located a 99 mph fastball perfectly on the outside part of the plate, far out enough to get Cabrera to swing and miss but close enough to get Cabrera to swing at it in the first place. Then, as Yankee Stadium rose to its feet, Betances went right back to the same spot as the 2-1 fastball, but this time reaching triple digits with a 100 mph fastball that Cabrera swung and missed. Inning over. Betances completely overmatched Cabrera in that at-bat and in a matchup featuring power versus power, Betances came up on top.

Moment #4 (April 12, 2016): Betances buckles Jose Bautista’s knees on a full count knuckle and strikes Bautista out in an early-season matchup against the Blue Jays.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Yankees traveled to Toronto on a Tuesday and faced off against the Blue Jays for the first time this season. Leading 3-2 going into the 7th inning, the Yankees had just taken the lead on a Jacoby Ellsbury single. Eager to protect the slim lead against a dangerous Blue Jays lineup, manager Joe Girardi called on Dellin Betances with two outs in the bottom of the 7th to come in for Chasen Shreve. With Josh Donaldson on first, Betances stepped onto the mound to face the very dangerous Jose Bautista. He quickly fell behind 2-0 on 2 knuckle curves. After Bautista gained the advantage by reaching a 3-1 count, Betances knew he had to retire Bautista or else things would have gotten worse. He regained composure and threw a 96 mph fastball that Bautista looked at for strike two. Then, as the fans in Rogers Centre looked on, Betances threw an absolutely filthy 83 mph knuckle curve that buckled Bautista’s knees and caught him looking for strike three. As Blue Jays fans groaned and expressed their frustrations at the umpire, Bautista walked back to the bench, looking very confused as to how Betances won that at-bat. Betances would complete his dominant outing by setting down the Blue Jays lineup in order in the 8th inning.

Moment #5 (April 26, 2014): Betances earns his 1st career win against the Los Angeles Angels, throwing two scoreless innings.
In his first complete season with the Yankees, Betances was not well known among Yankee fans, and even among the very faithful, he was not a name that all were familiar with. However, he changed that quickly. In his first 9.2 innings in 2014, Betances sported a 0.93 ERA and allowed just 3 hits and one earned run, while striking out 16 batters. In a 3-3 game on that Saturday two years ago, Betances entered for Vidal Nuno with Mike Trout of the Angels on first. After he committed a balk to allow Trout to go to second, he retired Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick to get out of the 5th and keep it at a tie game. John Ryan Murphy, ex-Yankees catcher, homered in the bottom of the 5th to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. The 26-year old Betances now had a chance to win his first game in the majors. In the 6th, Betances came back out and struck out Chris Iannetta and David Freese to preserve the lead. He was eventually removed with one out in the 7th. Betances completed 2.0 IP of relief, allowing just one hit and striking out three. Shawn Kelley, Matt Thornton, and David Robertson finished off the game and gave Betances his first ever win in the majors. Betances went on to win four more times in 2014 and ended the season with a 5-0 record with 22 holds and a 1.40 ERA, giving up only 14 runs in 90 innings while striking out 135 batters.

Moment #6 (June 1, 2014): Betances strikes out 5 batters in a 2-inning appearance against the Minnesota Twins.
Betances continued the trend of appearing earlier than usual (relatively speaking) in 2014, as he was not yet given the set-up role (those his statistics that year say he should have been), so on this Sunday afternoon, he entered in the top of the 6th, taking over for Chase Whitley. The Yankees had just scored two runs in the 4th to take the lead 2-1, so Betances wanted to protect the lead and hand the ball off to Adam Warren and David Robertson with the lead still intact. In the 6th, he faced Oswaldo Arcia, Josh Willingham, and Jason Kubel, and needed just 10 pitches to strike out all three. He got Arcia swinging on a knuckle curve and then got Willingham and Kubel looking on that same pitch, the nasty knuckle curve that makes even fans, like myself, at home buckle when I see it. In the 7th, he came back out, and the first batter of the inning, Kurt Suzuki, actually put the ball in play! But alas, he grounded out to Yangervis Solarte at third. Not to worry, as Betances came back and struck out Eduardo Escobar and Aaron Hicks on knuckle curves. This was the second time in 2014 that he struck out 5 or more batters in a relief appearance; he recorded his 52nd through 56th strikeouts in this game, and he pitched just his 31st and 32nd innings that day. His legendary run in his first complete season was just beginning.

Moment #7 (March 10, 2016) - Betances, Miller, and Chapman pitch together for the first time in Spring Training.
On December 28, 2015, Aroldis Chapman was traded to the Yankees for four minor league players: Caleb Cotham, Rookie Davis, Eric Jagielo, and Tony Renda. Chapman became another key asset to the Yankees bullpen, which now featured Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, Chapman, Johnny Barbato, and Chasen Shreve. In this game, Eovaldi exited after two innings. Andrew Miller first came on. Miller gave up 4 hits and 2 earned runs; after that, Betances entered and pitched a scoreless inning. In the inning, Betances used a 97 mph fastball to strike out Justin Smoak. Aroldis Chapman entered last, and pitched 0.2 IP and gave up an earned run. Although Miller and Chapman did not pitch very well and the Yankees lost 11-4 that day, the very sight of seeing all three of them pitch consecutively was a foresight into the future, once Chapman returns. Yankees fans everywhere rejoiced at seeing this dominant bullpen finally in action, and I can’t wait until May 9th, the date when Chapman finally rejoins the Yankees and becomes the third piece of this talented Yankees bullpen.

Moment #8 (April 5, 2016) - Betances’s “throwing error” leads to an Astros 5-3 win on Opening Day.
It was a 2-2 game in the 8th inning with Jose Altuve on second and one out. Carlos Correa was at the plate. Betances, on a 1-2 pitch, got Carlos Correa to hit a soft dribbler down the first base line. Betances fielded, but in an attempt to get the ball to Mark Teixeira, he lofted the ball far beyond Teixeira’s reach and it rolled down the first base line. Correa, who advanced to third on the play, scored as a result, and the Astros never looked back as they won 5-3. However, it was clear that Correa, while running after putting the ball in play, ran more than a couple of feet out of the base path. He was left of it, and was in the direct path of where Betances would have thrown the ball to Teixeira. He may or may not have interfered with Betances’s throw, which if it was ruled he did, he would have been out and Altuve would not have scored. However, the umpires ruled that there was no interference and they allowed Altuve to score. It was a very controversial play to begin the season, and one that cost the Yankees the game. Betances should have probably hit Correa with the throw, in order to show he was not only trying to get Correa out, but that Correa was in the way. This was a memorable moment, not because it was a great memory, but rather because it was a very controversial play that caused manager Joe Girardi to scream at the umpires and gave the Astros the Opening Day win.

Moment #9 (July 14, 2015): Betances makes his second All-Star Game & first career appearance in Cincinnati, throwing a scoreless 7th inning.
Due to his dominant first half in both 2014 and 2015, Dellin Betances has made both All-Star Games in the last two years. In 2014, however, he did not pitch at all. But, he got his chance the next year. He entered the 2015 All-Star Game with 77 strikeouts in just 47 innings and had a 1.53 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. In the bottom of the 7th, Betances entered and replaced Zach Britton. The American League led 5-2 and were just 9 outs away from getting home-field advantage in the 2015 World Series. Betances’s first batter was  San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. On the 1-0 pitch, Crawford drilled a very deep fly ball to right, but it was just foul. Betances would retire Crawford on a groundout to Indians 2B Jason Kipnis. His second batter was Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs, who worked the count full and then walked on a 98 mph fastball that was just low. (The video above shows the 3-2 fastball that just missed.) Betances redeemed himself, however, and struck out Giants 2B Joe Panik on a 1-2 knuckle curve. Then, Diamondbacks CF AJ Pollock grounded out to Orioles 3B Manny Machado. And just like that, Betances completed his first outing in the All-Star Game and threw a scoreless inning, with one strikeout and walk. If he continues the dominance he’s shown this season, there’s no doubt we will see him in San Diego for the 2016 All-Star Game on July 12. 

Moment #10 (July 7, 2014): Betances earns his first career save with a 2-inning outing against the Cleveland Indians.
When I pitched in Little League, I always dreamed about striking out the last batter of the game and securing the win against a dominant rival for my team. So although Betances only earned one save in all of 2014 and the Cleveland Indians are not a rival of the Yankees, I’m sure his first save still meant a lot to him. After Yan Gomes homered off of ex-Yankees pitcher David Huff to make it a 5-3 game, Dellin Betances entered on this summer evening at Progressive Field in Cleveland. He got his first batter, Mike Aviles to ground out to him. After Jason Kipnis reached on a Brian Roberts error, Asdrubal Cabrera popped up into a double play. Inning over. Betances returned for the 9th inning and although Michael Brantley singled to put the tying run at the plate, Betances struck out Carlos Santana, got Lonnie Chisenhall to line out, and Nick Swisher to fly out to relatively deep right field. With that, Dellin Betaces earned his first career save and only needed 15 pitches to get through 7 batters and 6 outs. Yankees fans began to take notice of Betances and his power fastball and filthy knuckle curve, and he would go on to complete a very successful 2014 campaign.

Article by: Bryan Peng
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