NEW YORK -- Dellin Betances has represented the American League in four consecutive All-Star Games, and though his season got off to a slow start, the flame-throwing Yankees reliever isn't ruling out another trip to the Midsummer Classic.
Betances showed off his reclaimed dominance in Saturday's 4-3 victory over the Mets, striking out the side in a perfect eighth inning. Even with early struggles that bumped his standing in the bullpen pecking order, Betances leads all AL relievers with a 15.75 K/9 ratio, ranking second in the Majors only to the Brewers' Josh Hader (17.83).
"That's probably the best I've felt, ever," Betances said. "I think my fastball is good. My breaking ball is good. Even when things weren't going as good as I was giving up a couple runs, it's probably the best I've felt in a while -- or the best I've thrown the ball since I've been here. I have to continue to trust the stuff and go out there and try to do my job."
Betances owns a 1-2 record and 3.54 ERA in 26 appearances, striking out 49 against 11 walks in 28 innings. He is unscored upon in his last seven outings dating to May 27, permitting one hit over that span.
"You'd rather not go through those [rough stretches], but with relievers that have pitched a lot, it happens quite a bit," pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. "He's come out on the right side of that more times than not. His track record is impressive. Four All-Star Games is not something you ignore. It was just a matter of him getting back into a real solid delivery and repeating it. He's been able to do that."
Betances said that he was throwing too many breaking balls at times, and credits an improved game plan for his recent success. Increased use of video has helped, as has the input of bullpen coach Mike Harkey, Betances said.
"I try to look at what I can do to use my strength against their weakness," Betances said. "Harkey is a guy who I rely on and I try to repeat everything that he tells me to do when I'm out there. I think I've been listening a little more. Earlier in the year I felt like I was going out there and just throwing anything. My game plan wasn't as good. I was just going out there, trying to throw whatever was called. [Now] I think I'm trying to be two pitches ahead of what I want to do when I'm out there."
Masahiro Tanaka played catch on the damp turf at Citi Field on Sunday afternoon, attempting to keep his right arm in shape while he recuperates from a pair of strained hamstrings. Meanwhile, the Yankees are looking ahead to Friday's game against the Rays, with right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga emerging as the leading candidate to take Tanaka's place in the rotation.
Rated as the No. 12 prospect in the Yankees' organization by MLB Pipeline, the 23-year-old Loaisiga has excelled this season at Class A Advanced Tampa and Double-A Trenton, going a combined 6-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 10 starts. In 45 innings, he has struck out 58 against four walks.
"He's had some good games this year," Rothschild said. "He was impressive in Spring Training. He's a young guy that hasn't pitched a whole lot, so we'll have to see what that decision is when we get to it and who's doing what in the next few days."
Loaisiga was being considered to start the second game of last week's doubleheader at Detroit, but a pair of rainouts in Baltimore negated the need to promote a pitcher. Triple-A right-hander David Hale has also been mentioned as a possibility, though his start for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was rained out on Sunday.
"He's done well," Rothschild said of Hale. "At this point in his career, it's pretty much what you've seen. He's made some good adjustments during the course of this year. So we'll see. But I don't think we're set on necessarily any one thing. We have an idea of where we want to go but we'll have to see where it all washes out."
Rothschild did rule out right-hander Luis Cessa, who is set to throw 45-50 pitches in a Minor League rehab start on Monday for Tampa.
All rise, Judge sits
The Yankees continue to say they are not concerned about Aaron Judge's sore left thumb, but with an off-day on Monday, manager Aaron Boone sat the slugger for Sunday's Subway Series finale. Boone said that he wants to give Judge additional rest leading into this week's action at Yankee Stadium.
"Judge is good," Boone said. "I was really relieved that he was good to go yesterday and obviously a really big home run. I just decided after the game, I felt like with the off-day tomorrow, I wanted to take the chance to give him a couple. He fought me a little bit on it."
This date in Yankees history
June 10, 2002: Future Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames homers on the first pitch he sees as a big leaguer, off the D-backs' Randy Johnson in the third inning of a 7-5 win at Yankee Stadium.