With his 131st strikeout of the season in Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, Dellin Betances of the New York Yankees broke Mariano Rivera's franchise single-season record for strikeouts by a relief pitcher, according to a tweet from Elias Sports Bureau.
As the MLB career saves leader and one of the all-time Yankee greats, Rivera set the original mark back in the 1996 season, fanning 130 batters. Just like Betances, Rivera etched his name into the Yankee record books before he was anointed the closer, as The Sandman only collected five saves over 107.2 innings that year.
As Rivera grew to rely more on his world-famous cut fastball, his strikeout numbers went down over the course of his career, as he never once fanned 100 batters in a season after 1996.
Rather than pitching to contact, Betances has retired nearly 44 percent of his batters faced via the punch-out. Using an mid-90s fastball, cutter and breaking pitches that sport an 18 percent whiff rate per Brooks Baseball, the relief ace owns a remarkable 13.5 K/9 rate. Among pitchers who have thrown at least 60 innings this season, that mark is good for third in all of baseball behind only Kenley Jansen's 13.9 and Brad Boxberger's 14.4.