For the last two months, Dellin Betances has been in an audition as the closer for the New York Yankees.
Ever since the team dealt both Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller at the trade deadline, it forced the Yankees to take their All-Star reliever and dominating setup man and put him as the closer; something he’d done a handful of times in his career, but with Chapman and Miller both gone, Betances has been the guy.
It’s, unfortunately, safe to say, Betances may not be the best guy long term as the closer for the Yankees.
Betances started out well in the month of August; that is when the Yankees weren’t considered a playoff contender and were expected to just play out the rest of the season after trading away some of their key pieces. Betances pitched to a 0.68 ERA in 12 appearances, converted seven of eight saves and struck out 21 batters in 13.1 innings.
Those numbers are why he’s been an All-Star since the 2014 season. But in September? It’s been anything but that.
With the Yankees clearly in the playoff race for both the American League Wild Card and at one point, the American League East, Betances in the month of September: 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA in 10 appearances with five saves in six chances and 13 strikeouts in 8.1 innings. But the alarming number: allowing 13 runs, 10 of which were earned.
Before September, Betances had allowed 18 total runs on the season and just three in his last two months, so the disastrous September has been alarming for a lot of people around the team. It’s numbers that don’t make Betances the All-Star and dominating pitcher he has been for the last four seasons.
And it’s why the Yankees need to make an all-out pursuit to bring Chapman back in free agency this winter.
With Mark Teixeira’s contract coming off the books, plus Chapman, Carlos Beltran, and Ivan Nova’s salaries now gone, they will have at least $53 million in salary coming off the books and eligible to spend on free agents, and in this case, Chapman.
Chapman is arguably the best closer in the sport right now and his numbers continue to show that he is; 4-1 with a 1.61 ERA with 36 saves and 85 strikeouts in 56 innings between the Yankees and Chicago Cubs; a team he is trying to help win their first championship since the 1908 season.
Chapman clearly enjoyed his time in the Bronx and has been very vocal in the past year about how much he’d love to come back to New York if given the opportunity. Plus, he’s dropped several hints on social media about wanting to return to the Yankees this winter no matter what happens with the Cubs in the postseason.
The Cuban flame-thrower thrived in New York; 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA and 20 saves in 31 appearances, and that was after sitting out the first month of the season due to a suspension for the domestic dispute at his home last October. His return in early May helped spark a 9-17 Yankees team that was struggling to stay above water in the first month of the season and helped get them to a 42-31 record with him there until his departure to Chicago.
11 games over .500 with him as the closer. The proof was in the results, as with Chapman there, the Yankees were a better team with a deeper bullpen and with Betances struggling, the Yankees need to realize that Chapman, and now Betances, is their long-term answer to be the closer and why they need to spend, and maybe even to a point to over-spend, to get him.
Chapman made $11.25 million this season in his final year of arbitration, but clearly, he will get a lot more being the most overpowering closer in the sport at 28-years-old. So he’s easily looking along the lines of a five-year, $82.5 million deal, which is essentially starting pitcher-type money.
But Chapman has that kind of stuff to help dominate and lock down a game in the ninth inning. And if he helps the Cubs get far into October, then he’s assured himself this kind of payday.
And with the Yankees not looking to make a splash in the free agent boat until later in the future, bringing back Chapman this winter and re-inserting him as the closer is their most obvious need and move to make heading into the offseason.