TORONTO — One of the Yankees' biggest arms at long last made his 2019 debut Sunday afternoon.
And though Dellin Betances’ appearance lasted only two batters – by design – the results couldn’t have been more encouraging.
The righthander, who started the season on the injured list with a right shoulder impingement and suffered a severe lat strain during his rehab, struck out both batters he faced on eight pitches, seven of them strikes.
“Hopefully we continue to see the tick up of the fastball,” Aaron Boone said. “It looked like he was mostly around 94 today consistently. Again, hopefully this is another step in him kind of building up. But to have him come out and be as sharp with his command as he was was encouraging.”
Betances, whose fastball velocity in his three minor league rehab starts sat at 92 to 94 mph, was a notch up from that Sunday. He struck out Reese McGuire looking at a well-located 95-mph fastball, then struck out Brandon Drury looking at a sharp 0-and-2 curveball after getting a pair of called strikes with 95-mph fastballs.
After the called strike to Drury, Betances took several steps toward the dugout, thinking it was the third out, then laughed when he quickly realized his mistake.
“That was the first time, so I was a little nervous to see how I felt,” he said of the outing. “But actually it was good. I’ll take it.”
Betances, a free agent after the season, was replaced by Nestor Cortes Jr., who wound up allowing a three-run homer by Randal Grichuk in the fifth and taking the loss.
Giancarlo Stanton, limited to nine games this season because of an assortment of injuries, is slated to return to the Yankees from his latest issue — a right knee sprain — this week. He has not played since June 25.
“G had a really good day yesterday,” Boone said of Stanton’s final simulated game Saturday in Tampa. “I do expect him at some point on the homestand, not necessarily Tuesday. I wouldn’t rule it out necessarily, but I wouldn’t expect it.”
Stanton and Miguel Andujar hit a combined 65 home runs last season, when the Yankees set an MLB record with 267. Between the two this year, in 21 games, they have one. Despite the loss of the two power hitters, however, the Yankees have hit 286 home runs in 151 games, one fewer than the Twins, who have played 149 games.