Yankees' Betances Turns In Top Performance Of Season

ROCHESTER, N.Y.—Having issued 27 walks in 28 1/3 innings over his first six starts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Dellin Betances came into Wednesday's turn against Columbus intent on attacking the zone. Even when second baseman Cord Phelps drilled his first pitch into the right-field bullpen, the 6-foot-8 righthander stuck to his plan.

Betances retired the next eight hitters, fanning four consecutive Clippers during one stretch, before surrendering another first-pitch knock to Phelps in the top of the third. The leadoff man was the only Columbus hitter to scratch the hit column in eight innings against one of the brightest pitching prospects in the Yankees system.

Betances allowed just two walks, with the first coming to third baseman Jose Lopez to open the seventh inning. Lopez, like left fielder Russ Canzler, who walked to lead off the eighth, was erased on a 4-6-3 double play. Altogether, Betances coaxed nine groundballs from the Clippers' bats to his infielders.

The eight innings were a season best for the 24-year-old Betances, as were his seven strikeouts, and the 2-1 victory evened his record at 2-2 and dropped his ERA to 5.20.

"I've been feeling better my last couple of starts, even though my walks have been high," said Betances, who issued six free passes in his last start, against Rochester. "My bullpens have been better. It's just a matter of taking it out there. Today everything was working—changeup, curveball—and I was able to throw first-pitch strikes, which is the key, something I haven't been doing."

Scranton pitching coach Scott Aldred cited Betances' ability to utilize all his pitches as the key to his success Wednesday.

"He threw enough strikes to be effective and changed speeds extremely well," Aldred said. "Even though he got guys who he fell behind, he was able to use his changeup to get back into the count. His curveball was really good the first half of the game. He lost it a little bit late, but his changeup was outstanding when he mixed it up really good."

Betances threw 97 pitches on the night, with 62 going for strikes. On those rare occasions when he fell behind, it was the changeup he came back to time and again, saying he had a feel for it the entire game. When he got in trouble it was typically with his fastball, which tended to sail when he rushed his delivery.

"I've been working a lot with Scotty Aldred, just trying to finish my pitches, and I feel like today I was more under control," said Betances, the Yankees' eighth-round pick out of a Brooklyn high school in 2006. "It's something I've got to keep working on."

"He's a high-maintenance guy with his delivery," Aldred said. "He's a big guy who gets out of whack real easy. We've been doing some things to shorten his stride and help him out, and he did it for about four innings and then he lost it for a little bit. He kept rocking back and forth. He'd overthrow some pitches, and then he'd correct.

"That was good to see that he was making some adjustments. That's a big thing, and it's more long term. It's not (the case that) we work on it in the pen one day and it's fixed in a game the next. It doesn't work like that. It's long term."

Based in Rochester, N.Y., James Bailey reviews books for Baseball America