Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Joe Girardi is searching for his own personal Scott Proctor, and let's hope it's not Dellin Betances

Back in the day, they called it "the Bridge to Mariano," that police lineup of bullpen pugs that was constantly being trotted out by Joe Torre to throw the 7th and 8th innings - a tortuous eternity that connected Yankee starters to their closer. We could be ahead by five runs, but you dreaded what was coming.

For about five years, Torre tried everyone but Rudy Giuliani in that desperate role. He used Paul Quantrill, until the guy wilted. He used Flash Gordon and Tanyon Sturtze, until they melted down. Kyle Farnsworth went knock-kneed before he could collapse. If there is an Yankee Eighth Inning afterlife, surely Colter Bean is mowing the lawn.

But Torre's personal pan pizza of pain was the peerless, rubber-armed Scott Proctor. In 2003, the Yankees snagged Proctor and CF Bubba Crosby from the Dodgers for Robin Ventura. Proctor became Torre's go-to bullpen roll of duct tape. In 2006, he logged 102 innings. That's a crapload of work. The following year, he threw another 86. (Last year, innings-eater Adam Warren threw 78.) Proctor lasted three years on the Yankee treadmill, until he was throwing meatballs. One night, after a shellacking, he doused his jersey with lighter fluid and torched it at home plate - (no lie, he believed it exorcised the unlucky demons.) The juju was too late. Days later, Proctor was dealt back to LA for Wilson Betemit... who later was traded for Nick Swisher... who misplayed the liner in the playoffs... that extended the game... that cost Derek Jeter his broken ankle... and whenever Didi Gregorious throws to the wrong base, we still feel Proctor's luck, do we not?

But that's not why I'm thinking of Proctor today. The reason: Last year Dellin Betances, our best player, threw 90 innings out of the bullpen. Already this season, he's thrown 15. (That would put him at around 90 again, give or take.) That's a Proctorian load. Mariano Rivera in 1996, his first real year, threw 107 innings. After that, as closer, Mo only once threw more than 80, and usually kept his total in the low 70s.

Right now, the Yankee 8th inning bullpen bridge is a disaster. No lead is safe. We nearly pissed away leads of 8 and 6 runs, and Monday, we lost a game because we couldn't get four measly outs. Girardi can go to his binder or call up the Walking Dead from Scranton. But if nobody steps up, the ghost of Scott Proctor will haunt this team in July and August.

Dellin Betances could be a future great Yankee. He could someday have a plaque in center field. (Which isn't what it once was, eh?) We must get him to a place where he isn't throwing 90 innings per year. Otherwise, we might see him one day burning his hat at home plate... setting into motion another long range progression of bad luck.

2 comments:

John M said...

Betances can't be the only guy who can get people out ahead of Miller. For that matter, Miller can't be the only guy who can get people out in the 9th.

Where are all these power arms we supposedly signed? A bullpen's worth of 95 mph wunderkinds? And don't we have a lights-out dude in triple A we can call up? I thought I read something about him.

jdrny said...

I'm afraid Girardi will overuse Betances the same way he overused Tanaka last year.
He is not a good mgr when it comes to handling pitchers limitations