Betances Back To Changing It Up

Betances held batters to a .217 average in 2011

Despite achieving some goals in 2011 like making it to the big leagues and getting his first start there out of the way, Dellin Betances wasn't completely thrilled with his overall season. In fact, he was a surprise guest at Instructs the last couple of weeks and he says he used his cameo to rediscover his changeup.

"It was a last minute thing," Betances said of Instructs. "I actually found out the same day I was starting [my first big league game]. Nardi [Contreras] had texted me that he wanted me to come so I could finish strong.

"They basically told me I could do my own thing and pitch a couple of times. I thought it was a good thing for me to throw and look back at some video from last year and this year, and find that release point to give me something to work on this offseason and get ready for next year."

Even though the Yankees wanted him to use everything in his arsenal down at Instructs, Betances took it upon himself to strip down the curveball and focus almost entirely on rediscovering the power changeup he had a year ago.

"He said I could throw whatever I wanted but my curveball this year was my [best] pitch," he said. "My changeup was a pitch that I kind of got away from this year. That was a pitch that helped me a lot [in 2010].

"I just want to get the confidence back in my changeup to throw it the way I know I'm capable of. I did have games where I threw it good but I had times where I lacked confidence in it this year. That's a pitch, not just me, that every pitcher needs."

Even before finding out that the organization wanted him to head back to Tampa after his brief big league exposure, Betances knew what his offseason plan was going to be anyway.

"This offseason is my focus – play catch, throw a lot of changeups – that's a pitch that helped me a lot last year. When it was on that was one of the pitches to help me this year."

His biggest problems with the changeup in 2011 was never gaining confidence in throwing what everyone knows is a feel pitch and that lack of confidence opened up a carousel of ever-changing grips in an effort to find that confidence.

"This whole year has been an up and down year," he admitted. "For some reason I was just changing grips, doing different grips. I remember in Spring Training some [changeups] were okay but I felt weird with the grip. I wasn't getting it the way I was last year.

"It was probably more release point and the way I was throwing it so I tried changing grips. Some grips worked and then they didn't work, then I went back to my old grip and that started working for me, and then there were games where I'd be off with my release point so my changeup was off."

In a complete use it or lose it scenario, especially for a feel pitch, Betances now knows that his inconsistent changeup in 2011 was the byproduct of a vicious cycle.

"I just didn't throw it as much as I wanted to," he said. "I went back to the same grip though later in the year. I just didn't throw it enough. I remember last year I probably threw 10-15 percent [changeups] per game and this year was less than 10 percent per game.

"I just didn't throw it enough. I'm focused on it this offseason though so I'll have it for next year."

The good news is he has diagnosed the problem. Coming up with solution has been easy -- throw the changeup more, period!

"I felt like that second game out [at Instructs] that it was definitely better," he said. "I remember I threw a couple of high ones and then I'd make the adjustment to throw it again, and that's not something I did through the course of the year.

"If I threw a bad one [in-season] I'd kind of shy away from throwing another one, or if I got hit with it I'd shy away from it. Last year [in 2010] it didn't matter what count, I threw it more, more than this year.

"Looking at the number it definitely showed. There were games where it was real good and I'd get swings and misses with it, and those were probably my better games."

Now with his big league debut out of the way and his first start, Betances, who is confident his plus changeup isn't too far away, has his sights set on securing a spot on the big league team sometime next season.

"I know this is a big offseason for me and I feel like next season is going to be a big breakout year for myself," Betances said. "What I have to do now is work hard this offseason and get ready for next season.

"I don't know what the situation will be but I feel like next year is going to be a breakout for me. I can't wait until Spring Training comes."

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