Dellin Betances is nearly on his way back from his latest setback, and not a moment too soon, as the Yankees' bullpen continues to eat up innings with the second half on the horizon.
Betances, who hasn’t pitched because of a right shoulder impingement, also suffered a low-grade lat strain, revealed by an MRI in mid-June. Aaron Boone said Wednesday that Betances was “getting close” and “over 90 percent healed.” Boone saw Betances earlier in the day at Yankee Stadium, where he was doing treatment and rehab, and estimates that the reliever is about a week away from throwing again.
Betances’ return would be a major boon for a team that came into the day fifth in the American League in bullpen innings (326). The Yankees' bullpen ERA is also fifth, standing at 4.11 for a team that somewhat routinely has needed long relief outings when it uses an opener or spells parts of its rotation. James Paxton averages about five innings per start, while CC Sabathia and JA Happ average around 5 1/3.
On Wednesday, Domingo German, in his first start off the injured list, worked with a smaller than usual pitch count, and was pulled after 80 pitches and six innings. He allowed one run and six hits and struck out six.
“It factors in” their bullpen usage, Boone said. “We work really hard to make sure we’re not overusing guys, trying to be disciplined where, when we’re staying away from a guy or two, even when it hurts a little bit, we try to stay really disciplined to that.
"Some of that is by design. We’ve had a number of outings where we’ve gone opener, so in theory, we have a bullpen day but we [have a] long man set up to do that. I monitor, we monitor, very closely our usage of these guys and making sure we protect them as best we can. I don’t know if worried is the right word, but it’s something I’m constantly thinking about and trying to stay on top of.”