It comes down to a choice between two – Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. Miller just signed a 4-year $36M deal, which tells you how prominent of a role the Yankees expect him to play. He certainly has closer credentials. Ever since he was converted to a relief pitcher in 2012, he has been outstanding. His cumulative ERA has been 2.57. In 2014, he went to another level, dropping his WHIP to 0.802. He stumbled out of the gate, losing four of his first five decisions, until the end of May. That’s when he went on a streak of 21 Holds, 5 wins, 1 Save, and established himself as the 7th-8th inning man. The fact that he never played the closer role may be the one thing that gives the Yankees pause (that one save was of the extra inning variety, where the closer had already blown the save in the ninth and was already out of the game).
Comparing his stats to Betances’ makes for a good debate on who is the better closer. They both had a full season, with Betances and Miller having WHIP’s of .778 and .802 respectively, K/9 of 13.5 and 15.3 respectively, and HR/9 of 0.4 each. Something that does not immediately pop up is Miller’s ability to control runners on base. In 2014, only three runners tried to steal a base. His move to first is that good. That actually makes him more valuable in the seventh and eighth, as opposed to the ninth where closers usually start the inning.
Personally, I vote for Betances getting the nod. One big reason is Miller’s durability. In 2014, which was clearly his best year so far, he averaged less than one inning per game. It makes you wonder if he will be able to pitch the ninth on consecutive nights. It is something that he will have to work on, regardless of his role. At the price the Yankees paid to bring him here, they will expect him to step up.
The other reason why I vote Betances is just plain loyalty. Betances came up through our system and in his first full season broke Mariano Rivera’s franchise strikeout record for relief pitchers (135, the previous record being 130). He came in third in the Rookie of the Year voting, and represented the Yankees on the All-Star team.
When it comes down to it, if the Yankees go with Betances, they have a very nice backup plan in Miller. Miller can do the job, but it belongs to Betances. It is going to be quite the bullpen with those two at the tail end of it. One thing Yankee fans can take courage from, is that deciding between these two for your closer is a nice problem to have.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row
You've made BYB the fastest growing Yankees fan site in history. Now shop at the Bleeding Yankee Blue store! Follow me on Twitter @BleednYaneeBlu and LIKE Bleeding Yankee Blue on Facebook! Also, don't forget to check out the BYB Hub!