Dellin's rise only came after the fall
May, 16, 2014
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- Only two years ago, former Bleacher Creature Dellin Betances did not want to pitch anymore.
"There was a point I didn't want to play," said Betances, because of his struggles as a minor league starter in 2012. "I remember telling my family, 'It is not even fun anymore.'"
On Thursday, the 6-foot-8 Betances -- who grew up in the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn -- owned Queens in the Yankees' 1-0 win over the Mets.
If Betances continues toward major league stardom as a reliever, Thursday's sixth and seventh innings of the Subway Series might be remembered as the night he was notarized.
Betances struck out six straight, taking out the meat of the Mets order, including David Wright and Curtis Granderson.
"It was pretty cool," Betances said. "Subway Series, you grow up watching it. To actually be a part of it, to pitch in it, is pretty special."
Using a fastball that consistently bore down on the Mets at 96 mph and topped out at 98 and a nasty pitch he calls a slurve -- slider/curve combo -- Betances must have looked to the Mets as if he were being delivering from atop the Empire State Building.
"That’s pretty unhittable," Wright said.
Before all the strikeouts, Betances cleaned up in the fifth, entering with men on second and third and two outs. He forced Eric Young Jr. to ground out. Afterward, his catcher, Brian McCann, called him "filthy."
"He's as good as it gets," McCann said.
Betances is a middle-inning reliever right now, but he might be destined for late night. His K/9 rate is nearly 16. His ERA is 1.61. He could be the eighth-inning man at some point, maybe even this season. Maybe one day, he will close.
"He's got a gift," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's got a very good fastball and a very good curveball. He is not a comfortable at-bat."
As the 26-year-old Betances heads toward the top, a lot of his success now is derived from when he was at his professional bottom in 2012.
As part of the famed Killer B's -- along with Manny Banuelos and Andrew Brackman -- Betances entered Yankees camp in 2012 with large expectations after being a September call-up in 2011.
That 2012 spring, he shined in Tampa, firing eight scoreless innings with seven strikeouts. He didn't make the team but was sent to Triple-A with a sweet going-away present.
"They were like, 'Just do the same thing and you could be one of the first ones up,'" Betances said.
Betances' dream to be a regular major leaguer seemed in sight. He felt like he was standing in the on-deck circle of becoming a major leaguer, but he hurried to make it to the Bronx.
"Every start, I just put more pressure on myself," Betances said. "I was like, 'Well, if I throw three or four good starts, I could be up.' It kept going bad and bad, snowballing. It was definitely the worst time I've had professionally.
"The funny thing was, I was still throwing hard. I just didn't have a clue what I was doing out there."
By late June, he could not find the strike zone, and he asked to leave Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He called minor league pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras.
"I don't want to be here," Betances said he told Contreras. "Just send me to Tampa. Give me a week or two weeks to just refresh and regroup."
Instead, soon after, Triple-A manager Dave Miley told Betances he was leaving Scranton, but not for Tampa. Betances was being sent down to Double-A Trenton.
"I was pissed about that," Betances said.
Betances thought going to Tampa to reboot would be better for him. The Yankees thought he should find himself with Trenton. He put a couple of good starts together, but his arm started barking a little, so the Yankees shut him down toward the end of the season. He appeared as if he might follow Brackman as a failed Killer B.
That offseason, the Yankees sent Betances to the Arizona Fall League to pitch out of the bullpen. From there, Betances felt great, mixing fastballs with the slurve. He eventually ended up in the Scranton bullpen in 2013 and has been lights out ever since.
Betances learned from 2012. As is often the case, the worst of times led to the best.
"It is night and day for me," Betances, a former Bleacher Creature, said in the Yankees clubhouse at Citi Field. "It is just confidence. Going out there and being able to trust in yourself, trust in the catcher and just make pitches.
"In 2012, I was in the minors. In 2014, I'm here in the big leagues with Derek Jeter's last year. You can't get any better than that. I'm just enjoying each and every moment."