Russell: It’s Not Betances’ Pitching, It’s His Fielding

Every so often, there is a player who makes every fielding opportunity an adventure. Chuck Knoblauch received the most attention for his yips at second base. Before him, guys like Steve Sax and Mackey Sasser had issues.

Two years ago, Yankees starting pitcher Shane Greene committed three errors in one game against Texas, although that isn’t as bad as Tommy John once committing three errors on one play as a Yankee.

Now it seems like a ball hit to Dellin Betances is no sure thing.

On Wednesday, with the Dodgers up 1-0 in the ninth, Justin Turner attempted to score from third on a ball hit back to Betances. The righty’s throw was over the head of Gary Sanchez, allowing Turner to score the insurance run.

“Just, 6’8”. I think that the touch throws are always probably going to be the toughest for him,” Joe Girardi said.

The fielding of the Yankees closer certainly isn’t a pressing issue when he does what he does on the mound. He has stepped into the ninth inning role after Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller were traded. Betances has struck out 120 batters in 69.2 innings of work this season.

The fielding of Betances was actually the talk of Opening Day against Houston. Tied 2-2 in the eighth, Carlos Correa hit a ball up the first base line, which Betances fielded but then threw over the head of Mark Teixeira allowing Jose Altuve to score the go-ahead run from second. Correa had been running inside the baseline but the umpires figured the throw was so high that it would’ve been an error anyway. Girardi came out to protest the game. In fairness to Betances, it would’ve been tough to make a split-second decision to throw the ball into Correa’s back and hope for an interference call.

Two weeks ago, Betances made a highlight play in the field. Betances was on the mound in Kansas City, trying to close out a 5-4 win in the 13th inning. With a runner on first and nobody out, Eric Hosmer hit a ball back to the pitcher. Betances made a between-the-legs play, softly threw to Didi Gregorius at second, who fired the ball to first for a 1-6-3 double play.

Then came the high throw in the ninth inning against the Dodgers on Wednesday. The Yankees can live with the occasional error if it means getting the pitching that Betances has provided.

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