Who Slots in Following the Departure of Dellin Betances?

Following an injury-riddled season in 2019 where fans saw just one outing from 6’8” right-hander Dellin Betances, Yankees nation caught a case of the Christmas blues when word broke that he had signed a one-year deal that would send him across the East River to play in Queens. As a result of suffering a bone spur injury behind his right shoulder before Opening Day, along with tearing his Achilles tendon in his return on September 15, Betances missed virtually the entire season. Though the Yankees bullpen performed at an elite level in 2019 despite Betances’ absence, he is still one of the best relievers in baseball when healthy.

Brad Penner / USA Today Sports

The depature of Betances no doubt hurts, but the Yankees have guys that are prepared to step in to fill his shoes as they did in the 2019 season. Players such as Zack Britton and Adam Ottavino played phenomenal baseball in their first full year in pinstripes to fill the void.  Britton put together his most successful season since 2016 with Baltimore, which was a breath of fresh air after a questionable conclusion to his 2018 campaign.

In 61.1 IP in 2019, Britton put up a 1.91 ERA and a 0.9 fWAR. Influencing ground balls is Britton’s specialty, and the more balls he can keep on the ground the more successful he will be on the mound. His ground ball rate for the duration of the season was 77.2%, the third best mark of his career behind his All-Star seasons in 2015 and 2016.

Adam Ottavino also put together a successful 2019 campaign. When he is on top of his game, he's one of the nastiest pitchers in the game, with an arsenal of a slider that runs away from right-handed batters and a two-seam fastball that runs away from left-handed batters. The guy is a magician with the baseball; the only concern is his season-long stamina. Every Yankees fan remembers Otto’s performance this past postseason, though we wish we didn’t. He gave up 4 runs while only pitching in 2.1 innings, giving him a colossal 11.57 ERA. This also proved to be an issue in the second half of his 2018 season while in Colorado. Though we have seen the good and the bad from both of these men, the team and fans alike expect them to continue to dominate heading into this season.

With the 2020 season starting in about a month, the team is looking for the next arm to fill the void that the departure of Dellin left. A couple of options for that role could be Jonathan Holder or even Jonathan Loaisiga. The 26-year-old Holder has been with the Major League Yankees full time since the 2017 season, and this past season put up an ERA of 6.31 in 41.1 IP. Though this past was his worst season in terms of ERA since entering the big leagues, an interesting statistic that makes him a hopeful for a big year is how he had increased his K/9 by almost 2 strikeouts from 2018 to the 2019 season. He did this while also completely eliminating his curveball from his pitch mix, though he only threw it 1.8% of the time the season prior.

Kim Klement / USA Today Sports

The interesting dark horse for this role is 25-year-old hard-throwing Jonathan Loaisiga. Loaisiga got the start for the Yanks in the February 23 Spring Training game against the Rays, where he pitched one inning with a strikeout. If he does not end up in the starting rotation, he can be a force in the bullpen if he can put it all together. Though he is raw, he showed potential in the bullpen this past season with 10.52 K/9. His fastball reaches around 97 mph and reports have dropped that he is working to add a permanent slider to his arsenal to pair with the fastball, curveball, and changeup.

With a number of young arms in the bullpen, the Yankees have many options for players that are capable to make huge strides this season. The deciding factor for these guys is who can get the chances and who will show up when it matters.

Article by: Dustin Miles 

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