Following Tuesday’s win in game one of their doubleheader against the Mets (NYY 12, NYY 5), Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced Betances has been shut down a few weeks with a low grade lat strain. Boone did not give a firm timetable for his return but did say the Yankees expect Betances to return this season.
“He’s got a low grade strain of his lat. He’ll be shut down for a few weeks,” Boone said. “The good news is that it is low level strain, but obviously frustrating, especially because his shoulder’s good and he was feeling good, and now a little slowdown … He’s still going to play a big role for us this year. Just a little later than we thought.”
Betances has not pitched this season after going down with shoulder inflammation in spring training. He suffered a setback in April when he felt renewed soreness and only recently started a throwing program. Betances faced hitters at the team’s spring training complex last week and experienced the soreness in his lat the next day. He went for an MRI on Tuesday.
“He came out of his throwing to hitters well, but felt the soreness the next day,” Boone said. “When it was still there when he went out to throw his bullpen the next day, that was when we needed to take a look at this.”
Last season Betances, 31 and an impending free agent, threw 66 2/3 innings with a 2.70 ERA and 115 strikeouts. He became the first reliever in baseball history to strike out 100-plus batters in five consecutive seasons. The Yankees of course have a pretty strong bullpen even without Betances. Here are their bullpen’s MLB ranks through game one of Tuesday’s doubleheader:
- ERA: 3.88 (sixth in MLB)
- WHIP: 1.26 (ninth in MLB)
- K/9: 10.1 (fourth in MLB)
- WAR: 3.5 (first in MLB)
Zack Britton, Tommy Kahnle, and Adam Ottavino make for a formidable setup trio ahead of closer Aroldis Chapman. Those four are on pace for roughly 70 appearances this season, however, so the Yankees rely on them quite a bit. Betances returning would’ve added another dominant arm to the bullpen and lighten the load on everyone else.
It’s possible the Betances setback will push the Yankees into the trade market for bullpen help. They, and getting more innings from the starters is one way to lighten the load on the bullpen. For now, Betances is shut down again, but the Yankees do expect him back at some point in 2019.
“I know how hard Dellin’s worked to get back — and again, he is going to be back, and we feel like he’s going to be back and contribute this season — you’re frustrated for the player,” Boone added. “We’re obviously confident we have the guys to withstand it. We’ll be all the better when we do get him at some point.”