Mets bullpen could use a bottle of vintage Dellin Betances in 2021
By Tim Boyle
Dellin Betances needs to look a little more like his old self again for the 2021 New York Mets.
The excitement was real when the New York Mets managed to pluck Dellin Betances from the free agent pool last winter. For several seasons, Mets fans watched as he dominated from the New York Yankees bullpen. To even have the chance to sign him got us all excited about the possibilities.
Unfortunately, 2020 happened. The year was shortened and we only witnessed 11.2 innings of work from the giant reliever. The results weren’t all that good either. Betances lost his only decision and finished with a 7.71 ERA.
This wasn’t the bottle of Betances the Mets bullpen had ordered. This one seemed to be mislabeled. Where was the Betances we saw with the Yankees?
As everyone knew, Betances was already coming off an injury that limited him to a single game the year prior. This was a concern coming into the contract. Thinking optimistically, the Mets still signed him to a two-year deal well below his usual market value.
Betances will be back for 2021. When he returns, the Mets bullpen is going to need to see the vintage version of this four-time All-Star reliever.
What has made Betances such an effective pitcher throughout his career is his role. He does closer stuff without actually taking on the full-time role of a closer.
Sure, he can fill in when needed. He has 36 career saves with a high of 12 from back in 2016 when the Yankees had already traded away Aroldis Chapman.
Betances has averaged 14.5 strikeouts per nine in his career while pitching to a 2.52 ERA. These are numbers you want out of your closer and would be lucky to get. For Betances to make a living with these statistics as a setup man, it’s unprecedented.
How talented or not the Mets bullpen is remains somewhat of a mystery. Edwin Diaz turned things around, but I think he needs to do it again before anyone fully trusts him. Seth Lugo will also need to transition back into a relief role where he has been his best. Will his visit to the rotation have any ill-effects?
When the Mets reunited with Jeurys Familia before the 2019 season, one thought was that he could be a backup closer for them. It didn’t work out. They likely had a similar thought when signing Betances last winter. Again, it didn’t work out that way.
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Betances needs to be that veteran workhorse reliever he was for many years in the Bronx. He needs to be the second option to get the final three outs. If the Mets lose Diaz or whoever the closer may be, Betances needs to be able to step right in and get the job done. It’s what he was brought in for. And in round two with the Mets in 2021, I want to see him check off those boxes and punch out some batters with strikeouts.