NEW YORK -- The Yankees could be one of several teams in pursuit of high-end bullpen help this offseason, but Mariano Rivera says they should have no hesitation in entrusting the ninth inning to Dellin Betances.Speaking before Game 4 of the World Series at Wrigley Field, where he helped honor
NEW YORK -- The Yankees could be one of several teams in pursuit of high-end bullpen help this offseason, but Mariano Rivera says they should have no hesitation in entrusting the ninth inning to Dellin Betances.
Speaking before Game 4 of the World Series at Wrigley Field, where he helped honor the Orioles' Zach Britton as the American League's top reliever, Rivera said he recently spoke with Betances. The legendary closer believes Betances is ready to take on the challenge of serving as the Yankees' closer for a full season.
"I think Betances has done a tremendous job," Rivera said. "It's something that you need to see a little bit different. He has nothing coming behind him now. For me, I think that he is capable [of doing] the job, and he will do the job. I don't see why not."
Betances started this past season as Andrew Miller's setup man, then was pushed back to the seventh inning when Aroldis Chapman's 30-game suspension ended. The late July deals that relocated Miller to the Indians and Chapman to the Cubs installed Betances as the closer, where he produced mixed results.
In August, Betances posted a 0.68 ERA and seven saves in 12 appearances (13 1/3 innings), but he faltered in September, posting an 0-2 mark with a 9.64 ERA in 11 appearances (9 1/3 innings). Overall, Betances was 3-6 with a 3.08 ERA in 73 games, converting 12 of 17 save chances while leading the AL with 28 holds.
General manager Brian Cashman has said Betances is the Yankees' closer "unless we do something different."
One intriguing possibility could see the Yankees pursue a reunion with Chapman, who had a 2.01 ERA and 20 saves in 31 appearances as a Yankee and is set to become a free agent after the World Series. The Dodgers' Kenley Jansen won the Trevor Hoffman Award as the National League's top reliever and is also eligible for free agency.
Rivera experienced some bumps of his own in taking over the closer's role from John Wetteland in 1997. He said his own solution was to focus on throwing strikes and getting people out, advice he knows Betances can follow.
"I believe that he's capable -- and he has done it -- so I'm looking for next year to see how that develops," Rivera said. "He has the right mentality. He's a big boy out there. I don't think that he will be shy about doing that job. I'm looking forward to Spring Training and the beginning of the season to see how he will respond to a full year as a closer."
In their conversation near the conclusion of the season, Rivera said he and Betances spoke about some of the issues that Betances experienced -- particularly with holding runners and fielding his position. Rivera said he plans on being in Spring Training to help as a guest instructor.
"You can work with all that stuff," Rivera said. "I think the Yankees know that, and he knows that. They will be working with him in Spring Training, and he is willing to do that. We spoke about it. He will be there. He will be ready for that."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. Anthony DiComo, a reporter for MLB.com, contributed.