Dellin Betances came into the seventh inning of last night's game with the Yankees hanging on to a 2-1 lead against the Rays and within moments, made us all think that maybe he should have gotten another day off. All Betances had to do was get one out and three walks later, we were wondering if the Yankees were going to end up losing the game in annoying fashion.
As you can see, he was having a little trouble finding the plate (from the catcher's perspective).
Here's the pitch frequency map (from the pitcher's perspective):
Those three walks were issued to Grady Sizemore, Evan Longoria and Logan Forsythe which not only loaded the bases but loaded them with James Loney coming to the plate. And what did Betances do next? He struck out Loney on three pitches because that's what we all expected, obviously.
Betances went low-high-low with his velocity in the Loney at bat and when that happens, there isn't much a batter can do. When you see a ball in the 80s followed by one near 100, adjusting can be difficult and Loney didn't. Also, when Betances's curve is working and drops like strike three did last night, it's unhittable.
And here's how he located his pitches against Loney. (Hint: It was much better than he did against Sizemore, Longoria and Forsythe)
So 19 pitches after he started, Betances got the third out of the inning, and made watching the whole ordeal extremely frightening for everyone at home. Then, of course, he came out to pitch the bottom of the eighth inning and got three outs on five pitches.
[Graphics courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info, Brooks Baseball and Baseball Savant]