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Why Dellin Betances should be the first and only option if the Yankees need a fireman tonight

NEW YORK - In the American League Wild Card Game, when Aaron Boone pulled Luis Severino with two on and no one out in the fifth inning and the 2-3-4 spots in Oakland's order coming up, he called on Dellin Betances, and all Dellin did was get six consecutive outs, preserving a 2-0 lead and ending up with the win after the Yankees broke it open in the sixth.

"We wanted Dellin for that part of the order. So I was willing to go to him as early as we did," Boone said after that Wild Card Game. "Dellin is a stud, and I told him before the game, you may be who I go to in the fourth or the fifth inning potentially, if it's a part of lineup that I want you facing in that spot."

Three days later, after Masahiro Tanaka got through five innings of one-run ball in Game 2 of the ALDS versus Boston, Boone once again turned to Betances, with the Red Sox 2-3-4 hitters coming, to preserve a two-run lead - and once again, Dellin delivered two strong innings, this time giving up a run but not until the Yankees had made it 6-1.

"One of our overwhelming strengths is our bullpen. And when you get into these postseason games, especially when you have some off-days sprinkled in, you don't worry as much about workload," Boone said after Game 2. "You know you can protect guys. You just kind of weigh what match-ups you like better, especially as you get to the second, third time through an order. If you're lined up in the bullpen with the guys we're able to run out there, we're going to do that on a lot of different nights."

There was, obviously, much consternation last night about why Boone didn't go to Betances to relieve Severino in Game 3; the skipper said after the game that it was in part because Betances might only have been available for one inning, and he admitted Tuesday afternoon that he second-guessed his decision to leave Sevy in as long as he did for his entire drive home.

All that said, with the Yankees' backs against the wall in Game 4 and an off-day ahead of a possible winner-take-all Game 5 Thursday, if Boone has a quicker hook with CC Sabathia tonight, it's clear that Betances should be the first man out of the bullpen.

Just take it from Boone himself.

"He's one of the best relievers in the game, throwing the ball really well. So any time there's a big spot or a part of the order that scares you a little bit, he's a guy I'm really comfortable giving the ball to," the skipper had said prior to Game 3. "You could potentially see him in that kind of a role again; we'll just kind of try as best we can to come up with a plan, but Dellin is certainly known as a guy that, especially when it gets thick, we're very comfortable giving the ball to right now."

Betances had two days off between his Wild Card and Game 2 outings, and he's had two days off since, so if he was only available for an inning last night, he should be good for multiple tonight.

"We check in, obviously, and see where he's at physically each day, how he's bouncing back, and then make those kind of evaluations as far as what kind of length do we feel like we have out of him," Boone said Sunday. "Obviously, his first two outings here has been two-inning outings around some off days, so we feel like he's in a pretty good place, but these are things we check in with guys about every day."

Boone also has said all postseason that game flow dictates a lot of his bullpen deployment, and when it comes to tonight, well, they know roughly what to expect out of CC Sabathia, even if the skipper won't put an expectation on him, per se.

"I'm not going to put a limit or even an expectation on it. We just want him to be as effective as he can be for as long as he can be," Boone said. "He could pitch well for two or three innings, and because of the way we're lined up and rested in our bullpen, especially with our high-leverage guys, we feel like we have a lot of length out of them tonight, as much as we would almost ever have. But if he's rolling along, we've got a lead, all those things factor into it. I want him to go out and pitch his game, and we'll see where it takes us."

The Yankees don't need analytics, only the words above to know the final conclusion: no matter "where Sabathia takes us," situation good or bad, there's only one fire extinguisher that should be behind the first glass broken, and that's Betances.

It's different than the regular season, no question about it. Generally speaking, especially when you have a bullpen like we do, during the regular season, there's nights when you're staying away from certain guys or you don't want multiple innings out of guys or because you're in an everyday mode. Here in the playoffs, you've got some off days built in so you know guys are able to recover and you're willing to lean on guys more. All that goes in, but it's definitely a little bit different than the regular season, I would say.