NEW YORK -- The comparison has been made several times by voices around the team this season, and it is a great compliment that it seems appropriate. Dellin Betances may wind up being just as electric for the 2014 Yankees as Mariano Rivera was for the World Series-winning 1996 squad.
Betances has been nothing short of dominant this season, racking up another five strikeouts in two perfect innings of relief Sunday. He is allowing just 6.61 baserunners per nine innings entering play on Monday, the second-best mark in the American League and the fourth-best in the Majors.
At 6 feet 8 inches, Betances is more physically imposing than Rivera was during that banner, breakout year as John Wetteland's setup man, and arguably just as impressive. Rivera was 8-3 with a 2.09 ERA in 61 regular-season appearances in '96, striking out 130 and walking 34 in 107 2/3 innings.
"I think you can look at the numbers and they're probably fairly comparable," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "[Rivera] was a guy that we would use for multiple innings, and he was extremely effective, just like Dellin has been. So I can understand the comparisons. Obviously they're different pitchers; I think you can call them both power pitchers, but Dellin has the curveball as well."
Betances is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 23 appearances, and 56 of his 98 outs have come this season via the strikeout, including 40 of his last 66.
"I feel good. Since Spring Training, I've felt good," Betances said. "I put in a lot of work this offseason, cleaned some stuff up in my delivery and I'm working every day on the same routines, just trying to get better. That's my goal, and I'm still learning, but the more and more I get out there, the more comfortable I feel."
And the less comfortable opponents seem to be. Batters have posted just a .135 (15-for-111) average against the flame-throwing 26-year-old, who like Rivera was converted from a starter into a reliever.
"There's a different mentality out of the bullpen," Betances said. "You're only going to face the guys once. As a starter, you face them two or three times. But it's definitely a little different. My mentality out of the bullpen is different. I'm just trying to be aggressive, whereas a starter you kind of have to work your way."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.