He's a lock to make the Opening Day roster and there's no doubt about what role he's going to play in this year's bullpen or how well he'll handle that role, but Dellin Betances is an interesting case this spring. You'll recall that last year one of the leading ST storylines was "what's wrong with Betances???" His early velocity was down, his command was spotty at best, and his ST stat line was ugly: 8.1 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 6 BB, 9 K. Coming off his spectacular (and strenuous) debut relief season, there were questions aplenty about the impact that his heavy workload had on him and how that would carry over into the regular season.
Of course all that worry was for naught because Betances was lights out again in 2015. But he did stumble a bit down the stretch, posting season-worst FIP, K %, and BB % values in September and giving up as many home runs then (3) as he had in the previous 5 months combined. It would have made sense for some of last spring's worry to follow Betances into this year's camp after the rough finish to 2015, but that hasn't happened. What also hasn't happened is a repeat of last spring's problems, as Betances has been utterly brilliant in his 2016 ST appearances thus far: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K.
Betances said all along last year that there was nothing to worry about and that he just needed some more time to get loose and get back into his normal groove. Once he did, he was money. I'm equal parts curious about what he's done differently this spring to get locked in so quickly and excited about what that may mean for the season to come. Betances has always and to a certain degree will always battle bouts of inconsistency with his command because of how big he is, and it was a major problem for him in camp last year. The fact that he hasn't walked a single batter this spring is an encouraging sign that he's learned how to be even better at repeating his mechanics and a frightening sign of what may be in store for the rest of the AL if that is true.
Betances has been arguably the best relief pitcher in baseball over the last 2 seasons, top 3 at the absolute worst. If his ST performance so far compared to his ST performance last year is any indication, we may be in for his best season yet in 2016.