So with Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan and Mariano Rivera all moving on, plus Michael Pineda winning the fifth spot in the rotation out of spring training, Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild decided to convert both Warren and Betances into full-time relievers. It was one of the best ideas the Yankees manager and pitching coach have come up with in the early part of 2014.
At best, Warren was a number four or five pitcher if he continued to pursue being a starter, but as a reliever, he's so much more than just a run-of-the-mill pitcher. On the Yankees, he has become a force as a reliever. Maybe he thought too much as a starter and as a reliever, he can simply use his fastball to overpower hitters, but it's working. When starting, Warren at best got his fastball in the 90-92 mph range and it was extremely hittable, As a reliever, Warren's fastball is in the 95-96 mph range and hitters are fishing for it.
In 18 appearances, Warren is 1-2 with a 1.54 ERA and has 22 strikeouts in 23.1 innings with six walks and four runs allowed and hitters have a .207 average against him. Warren's dominance in the bullpen is why the Yankees can't afford to move him back into the rotation because he's been so effective in his new spot and allowed the team to call up Chase Whitley on Thursday night against the New York Mets.
While Warren has looked tremendous, Betances success story this season has been amazing because he was so close to being labeled a failure. As a starter, Betances lacked command and location, which is why it took so long for him to get a permanent spot on the team. With no other options left, the Yankees coverted him into a reliever and had him rely on using power pitches instead of trying to harness everything over five-six innings; something that never worked with Joba Chamberlain while in the Bronx.
Betances has looked like Chamberlain did in the 2007 season when he was a nearly unhittable reliever and in 2014, Betances look just like that, a dominating strikeout machine. If it's not the 96-98 mph fastball sizzling by a hitter, it's the overhead curveball being dropped in for a strike.
In 22.1 innings for Betances, he's 2-0 with a 1.61 ERA in 16 appearances and has 39 strikeouts and only nine walks with only four runs allowed and batters are hitting .169 against him. For a guy who struggled with command, Betances sure looks like he found exactly what he needed in the minor leagues as a reliever.
Brian Cashman tends to take a beating because the Yankees at times get called out for not producing home-grown talent in the majors and need to sign free agents. Having success stories in Warren and Betances silences those critics, especially if they can have this kind of success long-term. And if David Robertson can consistently continue to be a successful closer going forward, then Cashman has in fact struck gold in that area with three lock-down relievers that give the Yankees a legitimate chance to win every single time they enter the game.
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