Dellin Betances has accumulated 76 strikeouts while fanning 69 different hitters in his first 48 innings as a late-inning reliever.
And since the rosters for the All-Star team get revealed Sunday, it’s natural to think the pitcher who grew up on the Lower East Side and Washington Heights and was drafted by the Yankees out of Williamsburg’s Grand Street Campus in 2006 might be there.
“I’d be honored,” Betances said. “You’re talking about guys that you grew up watching, unbelievable players. I haven’t really thought too much about it but I’d be honored.”
Among those players Betances might be joining is David Ortiz. Ortiz is one of those with a strikeout against the right-hander and in his own colorful way paid compliments to Betances after Sunday night’s game.
“That kid’s nasty man,” Ortiz said. “He’s got good stuff and I’m old. He’s abusing of the old league. God bless him.”
“You’re talking about one of the best players in the game,” Betances said when asked about Ortiz’s comment. “When a guy like that says something like that, that’s an honor. It’s somebody who’ve I’ve always watched, especially [when I was] younger and that means a lot. I’m just trying to go out there and do my job to the best ability that I can.”
Betances has a strikeout ratio of 14.25 per nine innings over 35 relief outings and 60 of his last 112 outs have come via strikeout. Those type of numbers are drawing comparisons to Mariano Rivera in 1996.
“If you want a big strikeout, if you want a guy to come in the middle of an inning and get people out, he’s pretty good at it,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s done a tremendous job and he’s a reliever that obviously you can use multiple innings. Sometimes you get in extra-inning games that can be pretty important too.”
Through his first 35 appearances in 1996, Rivera had 79 strikeouts through 67 2/3 innings. In those outings, Rivera pitched more than one inning 26 times through that point while Betances has done so 22 times.
“I’m just more confident that I can go out there and do the job, believing in my stuff. Just trusting my game plan and the catcher’s game plan,” Betances said. “More than anything it’s just having the confidence and believing in your stuff and that you belong here.”
A year ago, Betances had a 10.80 ERA in six appearances for the Yankees. Those outings came after he was 6-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 38 appearances (32 relief outings) for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) and a year after he was 6-9 with a 6.44 ERA in 27 outings.
“I think it’s the experience,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot from talking to [David] Robertson and Mariano last year and the more and more I get to pitch, the more comfortable I felt. I know it’s the same game and times when you come up you make too much of it but I feel like I believe in my stuff, I believe in myself and I believe in the coaching staff for giving me a chance to prove myself as well.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.