Sunday, August 03, 2014

Rising from Rivera's shadow, Yankee bullen carves its place-Kepner, NY Times

8/2/14, "Rising From Rivera’s Shadow, Yankees’ Bullpen Carves Its Place," NY Times, Tyler Kepner

Dellin Betances
"In the far right corner of the visitors’ bullpen at Fenway Park, protected under glass in a frame above the bench, the greatest reliever left his mark. Mariano Rivera autographed the wall out there last September, after his final game at Fenway as an active player. The Red Sox preserved the section he signed as a subtle and lasting tribute.

One by one on Saturday, the Yankees’ relievers left the bench under that display and did their best imitation of Rivera. Pressed into action early to take over for a shaky Shane Greene, the relievers allowed just two hits and a run over four and a third innings in a 6-4 victory over the Red Sox.

Dellin Betances and David Robertson got the last eight outs, showing the kind of overpowering stuff that could play well in October, if the rest of the wobbly team can somehow get there. Betances hit 101 miles an hour on the center-field radar gun when he struck out Mike Napoli to start the eighth.

“Those two guys, they are amazing,” catcher Francisco Cervelli said. “If they’re facing, in the seventh or eighth, a guy throwing 100, and then Robertson comes in at 91 with cutters and curveballs, it’s difficult timing.”

The bullpen needed a game like this after allowing seven runs on Tuesday in a wild win at Texas. Robertson, who gave up two hits, two runs, three walks and a long game-ending flyout, called it his worst performance ever in a save. Betances allowed his first career grand slam.

With a team off-day sandwiched between two losses, Manager Joe Girardi could let Betances and Robertson rest for three days in a row. He rarely has that luxury, but managing the bullpen has always been one of Girardi’s strengths.

From his days as a catcher, Girardi said, he could tell when a tired pitcher’s stuff was deteriorating. 

As a manager, he combines that on-field savvy with the larger responsibility he has to each player.

“I never felt as a player that I was abused, and I never want to feel that I’m abusing a player to win a game,” Girardi said. “I don’t think that’s right.

“Yes, we’re here to win, and that’s our job. But it’s their career and it’s their livelihood and it’s how they provide. I don’t ever want to take away from that.”

Betances leads the majors in relief innings, with 65 1/3. But Girardi said he had studied Betances’ workload in the minors, breaking it down to the number of pitches he would throw in a typical month. A former starter, Betances is old for a rookie, at 26, and had more than 640 innings in the minors, with a high of 131 1/3 in 2012. 

The Yankees came into the game ranking 14th in the majors in relief innings — but first in strikeouts, thanks largely to Betances. He came into the game with 21 more strikeouts than any other reliever and now has 96 this season. He has a better earned run average (1.52), a better strikeout rate and allows fewer base runners than Rivera did in his breakout season of 1996.

Last month, Betances became the fourth Yankees setup man to make an All-Star team in recent years, joining Mike Stanton (2001), Tom Gordon (2004) and Robertson (2011). Rivera did not make it in that 1996 season, despite a 1.80 E.R.A. at the break, but he set the standard for a role that would help him — and now Robertson — thrive as closer....

Betances could take over as closer next season if Robertson leaves as a free agent, essentially repeating the career path of Rivera, who replaced the departed John Wetteland in 1997. For now, though, Betances goes perfectly with Robertson, who acknowledged some awe at his apprentice.

“How could you not have fun watching that?” Robertson said. “The dude threw 100 today. I mean, wow! I’m lucky to hit 93 and he’s pumping it at 101.”

Betances said he had never thrown 101 before but added that he did hit 100 miles an hour in New York earlier this season. Doing so was a goal, he said, that helped fuel his winter workouts. He had already reached 99 and said minor league teammates who had reached 100, including Michael Pineda, would urge him to join the club.

With the extra rest, and the adrenaline from pitching at Fenway Park, Betances said he had a feeling he might have set a personal high after fanning Napoli. Yes, he said, he sneaked a peek at the scoreboard radar gun.

“I just felt the ball was coming out better,” he said, smiling. “It’s just one of those situations: He was fouling stuff off; he was kind of late. I took a glance, and the guys told me as soon as I got in the dugout. I try not to look too much, but it’s definitely exciting.”

The need for speed has been mentioned as a reason for this season’s rash of torn elbow ligaments across the majors. Betances had a ligament-reinforcement procedure (not Tommy John surgery) in 2009, three years after the Yankees drafted him out of a Brooklyn high school.

As fun as it is to throw hard, Betances said, he recognizes there is more to pitching well.

“Strikes are better,” he said. “So I’ll take 100 with strikes.”" Top image: "Dellin Betances was clocked at 101 miles an hour Saturday in striking out Mike Napoli.," Getty. 

Sept. 2013

9/13/13, "Yankee Mariano Rivera Leaves His Mark at Fenway," GuardianLv.com, Charles Gille


Unfortunately no one yet comes close to the 1996 Rivera. 107.2 innings in regular season followed by 14.1 innings in post season including 3 days in a row in the World Series (10/21, 10/22, and 10/23) for a total of 122 innings. As for strikeouts, Joel Sherman notes Rivera "broke Goose Gossage's Yankee relief record of 122 strikeouts by fanning 130 in 107.2 innings."

Of Rivera's 41 multi-inning appearances in 1996:

*He pitched 3 innings in 8 games

  • 2.2 innings in 2 games
  • 2.1 innings in 3 games
  • 2 innings in 22 games
  • * 1.2 innings in 3 games
  • 1.1 innings in 3 games
  • Total multi inning appearances in regular season: 41
  • Entered with runners on base 15 games

  • From Joel Sherman: "Rivera went 8-3 with a 2.09 ERA (regular season), held opponents to a .193 batting average, and broke Goose Gossage's Yankee relief record of
    Most amazingly, of the record 4,962 homers spanked in 1996, Rivera allowed just one,
    • to Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro on June 28."...
    Page 208 from Joel Sherman's book, "Birth of a Dynasty," about the 1996 Yankees, published in 2006 by Rodale.

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