Dodgers sign former Yankees All-Star in low-risk, high-reward bullpen move

Thomas Carannante
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Mets pitches during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Mets pitches during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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This is now the second reliever formerly of the New York Yankees that the Los Angeles Dodgers have picked up the last two offseasons. First, it was Tommy Kahnle before the 2021 campaign, and now it’s Dellin Betances just a few days before the 2022 season kicks off.

On Tuesday it was reported the Dodgers had agreed to a minor-league deal with Betances, who spent the last two years with the New York Mets, but with little success. In 16 games, he pitched 12.2 innings and registered a 7.82 ERA and 1.97 WHIP while striking out just 12 and walking 13. He’s pitched in just 17 games since the start of the 2019 season.

Once upon a time, however, Betances was among the best relievers in the game. His career began with the Yankees back in 2006 when he was an eighth-round draft pick out of Grand Street Campus High School in Brooklyn. He made his MLB debut in 2011, but didn’t burst onto the scene until 2014.

Then, from 2014-2018, Betances was a four-time All-Star and bridged the gap to closers David Robertson, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. In his eight years in the bigs with New York, Betances owned a 2.36 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 2.31 FIP, 17 ERA+ and struck out an unthinkable 621 batters across 381.2 innings (358 games). He also recorded 36 saves, for good measure.

The Dodgers signed Dellin Betances in a low-risk, high-reward move.

Injuries have unfortunately taken the right-hander’s career off course, which is why he’s been so ineffective. Back in 2019, he pitched in just one game after dealing with a bone spur in his shoulder and then partially tearing his Achilles hopping off the mound during his short-lived season debut.

Apparently, that shoulder issue never fully went away, because he needed a season-ending procedure this past season to fix it again. In his brief return to the mound after his 2019 injury woes, Betances witnessed a decrease in velocity and lost the bite on his slider. He went from averaging 98 MPH on his fastball to about 93 MPH.

The 34-year-old also sports a curveball, which has proven to buckle the knees of opposing hitters, but we’d suspect he has a long way to go before he’s showing off that arsenal in MLB action.

Nonetheless, this is a smart flyer to take on the Dodgers’ end. Betances’ upside still exists and LA’s staff has specialized in remolding previously injured pitchers such as Corey Knebel and Jimmy Nelson, and we’ll soon see the results with Kahnle and Brusdar Graterol.

The more veteran, high-leverage experience the Dodgers can acquire to bridge the gap to Blake Treinen and Craig Kimbrel, the better. In 2022, they’ll be relying on a number of risky bounce-backs and perhaps even riskier follow-ups to 2021 (can Phil Bickford, Mitch White, Justin Bruihl and Alex Vesia all do that again?).

The more arms, the better. And the Dodgers are going to have a lot to choose from in the event something goes wrong, which they learned can happen in a flash last year.

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