Dellin Betances is a four-time All-Star, however, a carryover from a rough finish to the 2017 season was clearly an issue for the Yankees early this season. Betances' performance to open the season had fans up in arms and frustrated.
Some went too far (I know, surprising for Yankees fans), calling for Betances to be traded or designated for assignment (neither was remotely on the table). The truth of the matter is Betances needed time to work through his mechanics, and he was being pushed into a role that is now beyond his abilities.
The baseball season is long and cyclical -- players enjoy strong periods of performance and trudge through their slumps. For older or veteran players - Betances is 30 - it seems as if there is always some young stud that can "do it better." So when a skid begins, it is easy to throw the incumbent under the bus.
Betances has silenced his critics for the time being, staving off a takeover of his late-inning role and it could not have come at a better time with Yankees' closer Aroldis Chapman suffering from left knee tendinitis.
In his last 12 innings (11 appearances), Betances has looked every bit the pitcher that had been elected to four straight All-Star Games. He has allowed just one run on two hits, six walks (yes, an issue), and struck out 19 batters. That's a far cry from the messy line he put up from the start of the season to the beginning of the turnaround - 5.63 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP despite a 2.8 BB/9 and 16.9 K/9 in 16 innings (15 appearances).
Before the resurgence, Betances was wildly inconsistent and refused to utilize his fastball, relying too heavily on his curveball. He was also being asked to do more than he seemed capable by Yankees manager Aaron Boone.
Betances was tasked with throwing multiple innings, something that used to be second nature to the big right-hander. Those days are seemingly in the rearview mirror, and once Boone began to back off the notion of pushing for more from Betances, the reliever responded positively.
The difference for Betances is that he's throwing his fastball more often and truly kicking it in gear when he does, reaching the 100-mph mark on more than one occasion. Betances being able to locate the fastball has made his curveball - a filthy pitch on its own - that much more difficult to hit.
Betances is once again baffling hitters and being trusted in the late innings as the set-up man to Chapman. Dare I say it, he seems to be next in line for saves if Chapman needs a rest day (we have to imagine they are coming as the closer nurses his sore knee), which is a far cry from wondering if he should be working mop-up duty.
In my view, the constant issue with Betances beyond the mechanical hiccups centers on his confidence on the mound. At the moment, he seems completely comfortable with his role and in his abilities. There is little doubt that mechanical issues can come back in the blink of an eye because of Betances' build and delivery style.
However, if Betances can adjust quickly and maintain faith in himself as an All-Star quality pitcher, the Yankees should maintain a top-flight backend of the bullpen.