Photo: Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News
Last season, a retiring Mariano Rivera was treated like a rock star from coast to coast during a farewell tour with his career team, the New York Yankees. Now Derek Jeter, the last remaining member of New York’s “Core Four,” is calling it quits after two decades as an MLB icon.
No more Jorge Posada either. Andy Pettitte is gone and so is Bernabe “Bernie” Williams. It’s time to turn the page on an era in Yankee history equal to Ruth and Gehrig, or Mantle, Maris and Berra.
All this reality has me depressed. Who will emerge as the new face of the Yankee organization? Who will create a buzz in the Bronx and be a role model for the kids of New York, especially Latino kids?
That hero could be Dellin Betances.
(Gif via PitcherGifs.com)
At least for this season, Dellin Betances is an eighth inning relief specialist, the key pitcher responsible for protecting a lead before handing the ball to closer David Robertson. It was a role the legendary Rivera once filled in 1996 for John Wetteland. But Robertson is a potential free agent in 2015, and many Yankee insiders predict that Betances will be the long-term guy to fill Mo’s shoes. And why not? The 6′-8″, 260 pound flame-thrower is an imposing figure on the mound, and the main reason why New York still has a slim shot to make the post season.
Betances consistently fires the ball between 99 to 101 MPH. His curve ball is best described as “stupid,” player jargon for a pitch that is basically impossible to hit. In 51 relief appearances over 68 innings, Dellin has fanned 116 batters while compiling a 1.44 ERA. His record is a perfect 4-0, which indicates that he is occasionally called on when the game is tied.
After struggling as a projected starting pitcher in the minor leagues for seven years, the 26 year old Dominican-American simplified his delivery and found that he was best suited for the bullpen. Still only a big league rookie, success and respect earned him a spot on this year’s All-Star squad for the American League.
Betances is also uniquely New York, born and raised in Washington Heights. As a 10 year old, he was in the stands at old Yankee Stadium when a hungover David Wells threw a perfect game. After graduating from Grand Street Academy in Brooklyn, Betances was selected by the Yankees in the sixth round of the 2006 amateur draft, and was rewarded with a signing bonus of $1 million. It just seems like God insisted that Dellin was meant to wear pinstripes, and he is currently the only born and bred New Yorker on the Yankees roster.
“I’ve been pitching with a lot of confidence lately, and I just feel blessed to be wearing a Yankee uniform,” admits Betances, who remains humble but fearless and very focused.
Slam dunk. As long as the Bronx Bombers can score a few runs, this young man is ready to slam the door on opposing hitters and bask in the spotlight, just like the great Mariano used to do.