Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yankees Hand off to Dellin

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yankees Hand off to Dellin

Article excerpt

BALTIMORE - At the start of spring training, Dellin Betances was at least a co-favorite to emerge as the Yankees' closer in a revamped bullpen.

Now, he's about to become the Yankees' last line of defense.

Andrew Miller's aching left arm has elevated Betances to the ninth-inning spotlight - a chance that could arrive as early as tonight at Camden Yards, where the AL East-leading Yanks open a three-game series against the Orioles.

Betances is ready for the assignment, though he's not thrilled by the circumstances.

"Losing Miller is hard, obviously. He's done a [wonderful] job. He's probably done the best out of any closer in baseball right now," Betances said of Miller's 17-for-17 in save opportunities. "But we've got to step up, every one of us, and look forward to the challenge and try to get the job done."

Miller had been secretly nursing a sore arm until Wednesday, when he finally informed the club. An MRI revealed a strained flexor muscle in his left forearm. He won't pick up a ball for 10 to 14 days.

At that point, Miller would begin a throwing program. And if all goes well, he could return to closing games for the Yankees in about a month according to general manager Brian Cashman.

Until then, Betances inherits the ninth-inning heat, lefty Justin Wilson becomes an even more pivotal setup man and lefties such as Chasen Shreve and rookie Jacob Lindgren - along with just recalled right-hander Chris Martin - could be used in high-leverage spots.

"This is who we have now," manager Joe Girardi said. "We have to find a way to get it done."

After a breakthrough rookie season as a starter-turned reliever in 2014, the hard-throwing Betances has yielded just one earned run in a league-leading 29 appearances this year.

Betances, 27, also has two saves to go with his 4-0 record and 0.28 ERA. He's struck out 54 batters in 32 1/3 inning and allowed just 11 hits to the 122 batters he's faced without a home run. …

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