The New York Yankees’ injury list has been a major story early this season. It goes back a month ago to spring training when the team announced reliever Dellin Betances would start the season on the injured list with a right shoulder impingement (inflammation).
Betances had complained about his arm feeling weak and also said that he lacked a comfortable extension at the end of his throwing motion, according to Coley Harvey of ESPN. As a result of those complaints the Yankees ordered an MRI on Betances’ throwing shoulder and the test revealed the inflammation.
The Yankees started the season with five players on the disabled list – Luis Severino (right shoulder inflammation), Aaron Hicks (chronic back pain), Didi Gregorious (Tommy John surgey) and CC Sabathia (offseason heart and knee surgery).
The question now is how does the injury to Betances affect the Yankees?
The answer: Not at all. For now, at least.
The Yankees are blessed with pitching depth that should be able to plug the hole in the bullpen. Zack Britton, Chad Green, and Adam Ottavino, along with Aroldis Chapman are proven relievers. If one of those falter, then Luis Cessa, Domingo German, Jonathan Loaisiga, or Stephen Tarpley (who was impressive in spring training) could be called on to help.
Betances wasn’t concerned about starting the season on the injured list.
“I’m just a little behind,” he told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com last month. “I’m not concerned at all. At times, I’ve had a fatigued shoulder and the more I throw the better I feel. We’re running out of time here, so I think trying to get ready and be strong when I am out there, I think that is the main focus.”
He added, “Coming a little late to camp, I was trying to rush to try and start the season. I felt like I was just behind the whole time. The last time I pitched, I still felt like I wasn’t there.”
Last year Betances had a 2.70 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 66.2 innings. He has a career ERA of 2.36 and is the first reliever in Major League history to have 100 or more strikeouts in five straight seasons (2014 through 2018).
While Betances starting the season on the injured list is not he preferred option for the Yankees, it shouldn’t hurt the bullpen as long as his shoulder fails to respond to rest and rehab. If it turns out to be an injury that could sideline him for 2019, then it’s time for concern.