Posted on September 15, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
Every day, it seems like there’s injury news involving the New York Yankees. Sunday was one of the rare occasions that news was positive. The Yankees activated pitcher Dellin Betances and Jordan Montgomery from the 60-day Injured List prior to Sunday’s game with the Blue Jays. Neither has pitched this year, but both will have a chance to make an impact for the Yankees down the stretch and in the postseason.
Of the two, Betances is more likely to make a meaningful impact this year. He’s been sidelined since spring training with a shoulder impingement. He also suffered a lat strain while rehabbing the shoulder, further delaying the start of his season. Before the injuries, Betances was pencilled in to be a key setup man for the Yankees. However, it remains to be seen if the Yankees will throw him right into the fire or start him off in low-leverage situations first.
“We’ll kind of manage him as far as trying to be smart about his workload,” explains Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “But the biggest thing is trying to get him built up properly here in the final weeks of the season.”
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One concern for Betances is a lack of velocity on his fastball during his recent rehab outings in the minors. His fastball was topping out at 94 mph rather than sitting at 97 mph or higher, as it has in past years. Of course, the Yankees are hopeful that the velocity will come back the more he pitches. If he can regain the velocity and form he’s had the past couple of seasons when he posted an ERA under 3.00, Betances could become an important figure in the New York bullpen during the playoffs.
“I’m hoping it’ll tick up,” Boone said of Betances’ velocity. “I don’t worry that much about it. I’m more worried about making sure he’s staying in his delivery, the crispness and the sharpness with his breaking balls — and then I feel like, as he gets that continued regular work, we’ll start to see the fastball velocity tick up like it has most of his career.”
As for Montgomery, he’s back in the majors for the first time since having Tommy John surgery last June. Prior to the surgery, the lefty had become a steady member of the New York rotation. How big of a role he plays for the Yankees down the stretch will likely depend on his performance. He’s not someone the Yankees will push onto the playoff roster if he’s not ready.
Montgomery pitched in relief of opener Chad Green on Sunday against the Blue Jays. It was a planned outing that Boone called it a “softer landing” for Montgomery’s first major league appearance in over a year. The lefty allowed three runs on four hits over two innings, indicating he may not be ready to pitch in high-leverage situations.
Meanwhile, the Yankees are anticipating Luis Severino starting for the first time this season on Tuesday. The club is also hopeful that Giancarlo Stanton will also return from the IL sometime in the next week. As noted, whether Betances, Montgomery, Severino, and Stanton can make a significant impact late in the year and in the postseason after each experienced a prolonged absence remains to be seen. But the possibility that one or two could contribute in October has the Yankees excited.
“We’re talking about a lot of impact players,” says Boone. “It’s some big names we’re talking about — we know the kind of difference-makers they can be.”