The New York Mets have a lot of talent on their roster. Looking specifically at their bullpen, I think they could have a great back end with Trevor May, Seth Lugo and Edwin Diaz. There’s one player however that everyone is forgetting about. This is a dude who was at one point considered one of the best relievers in the sport. That dude, their secret weapon, is Dellin Betances.
Since Betances has only appeared in 16 games over the last two seasons, it’s easy to forget how dominant he was when he was with the Yankees. He was an All-Star every season from 2014-2017, including back to back seasons in 2014 and 2015 where he had an ERA of 1.40 and 1.50 respectively.
It’s not hard to see why he’s fallen off the radar of course. In 2019 he not only missed significant time with a bone spur in his shoulder, but he also tore his Achilles the moment he came back. He did manage to pitch in 2020 for the Mets, but it was to the tune of a 7.71 ERA in 15 games.
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Previous injuries, a poor performance last year, albeit in a small sample size, and the fact that he’s now 32 years old are going to cause people to doubt him. This is why his name isn’t being mentioned as a top option in the Mets bullpen.
Betances though, injuries aside, isn’t that far removed from being a really good reliever in the league. The 2018 season didn’t see him make an All-Star appearance like the previous four years, but the numbers he put up were still solid.
In 66 appearances, Betances threw 66.2 innings with a 2.70 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP, and 115 K’s to 26 walks.
What also makes that season interesting, is that his K/9 went up from 15.1 to 15.5, and his BB/9 went down significantly from 6.6 to 3.5 from the previous year when he was an All-Star. There are no two better things to combine for a reliever than a high strikeout rate and a low walk rate.
In addition, according to Baseball Savant, that year he also finished in the 99th percentile in strikeout percentage, 98th percentile in fastball velocity, 99th percentile in whiff percentage and 91st percentile in barrel percentage. Those are the numbers of a dominant reliever.
I know people are just going to write him off because he hasn’t been fully healthy, and when he did play last year it wasn’t great, and I think that’s incredibly unfair. We shouldn’t judge Betances based on 15 games coming back from an Achilles injury.
The first season coming back off a major injury is hard because you’re not really sure how your body is going to perform in games with the reconstruction. It’s also difficult to figure out the workload that your body is actually able to handle. It’s the same reason running backs mostly aren’t great their first year off a torn ACL, because you’re just getting full movement back, and you’re just getting the ability to put your normal workload on that injury once again.
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So now Betances will be back this year, two years removed from his Achilles surgery. There should be no limitations on his workload, and he should be ready to go by Spring Training. He may never fully go back to being the dominant All-Star that he was in his prime. However, if he can be remotely close to what he was in 2018, the Mets have another great relief option out of the pen for this season.