The New York Mets received a nice holiday gift with the signing of Dellin Betances to a one year, 10.5 million dollar contract with a player option for 2021 and a vesting option for 2022.
The signing fills a vital role in the bullpen, in which the fanbase was clamoring for since the conclusion of the 2019 season. The 2019 bullpen blew 28 saves in total with a 4.95 era which ranked 25th in Major League Baseball. With a team that won 86 games last year, it’s clear to see if the Mets bullpen performed to expectations, most notably with Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia, the Mets would have been a playoff-bound team.
With the addition of Betances and the expectation that Diaz and Familia will rebound, the Mets bullpen could transition from a weakness into a major strength. Let’s look into what kind of pitcher Dellin Betances is.
Dellin Betances is a true New Yorker. He was born in Manhattan, grew up in Brooklyn, was drafted by the New York Yankees with the 254th pick in the 8th round of the 2006 MLB Amateur Draft. He explored free agency, but in the end wanted to stay in New York interested in Van Wagenen’s direction for the team, and playing for a close friend in Carlos Beltran, whom he played with from 2014-2015. He was a failed starter turned reliever in which he thrived. In 6 plus seasons in the Bronx, with the Yankees, Betances compiled an 11.3 WAR with 2.36 ERA and an even better FIP of 2.31.
Betances has always had swing and miss stuff, using a high-velocity fastball (97.3 mph average) 48.4% of the time with a devastating knuckle curve which is used 51.5% of the time. He has compiled a 14.64 career K/9 ratio amassing five consecutive 100 strikeout seasons from 2014-2018. The only seasons he didn’t reach this milestone was last year, in which he only pitched to two batters (striking both out) due to shoulder and Achilles injuries and 2013 when he made his major league debut and only pitched 6 innings. Therefore, every season Betances has been healthy and played a full season, he racks up strikeouts limiting the offense’s ability to put the ball in play.
One area of weakness that comes with Betances’s game is spontaneously losing the zone. His BB/9 for his career is 4.01 which is higher than you want from a reliever. This trend is similar to how Familia can lose the zone in certain outings who also has a 4.03 BB/9 ratio for his career.
Austin Verhille of Yankees Nation Podcast profiles Betances as “An unbelievable reliever, some of the pitches you are going to see you won’t believe. All of his teammates loved him and so did the fans. You got a good one. Take care of him.”
Verhille also noted that when the Yankees used Betances has a closer, his composure took a dip. In 83 career innings pitched in the ninth, Betances has a 3.69 ERA with slightly higher OBP and OPS numbers against.
Good news for the Mets is that Betances has been one of the most consistently good relievers in the game, a position in which volatility is seen year to year. Look at Diaz’s 2018 to 2019 as a perfect example of this.
It’s a safe bet if Betances is healthy he will put up similar numbers he has in the past. Fangraphs 2020 zips projections have the Mets as one of the best bullpens in the League, factoring in big bounce-back seasons from Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia.
Zips has the collection of Diaz, Familia, Lugo, Wilson, Brach, Gsellman, Wacha, and Zamora amassing a total of a 5.0 WAR. If you replace Zamora in the bullpen with Betances the 5.0 WAR is higher to a 5.7, which would be a huge boost to a competing team in a vastly improved N.L. East.
Featured Image: New York Mets