Rafael Betancourt has been solid as the closer for the Colorado Rockies. Prior to his arrival in Colorado in 2009 he had served strictly as an 8th inning set-up man. Before 2012 he had a mere 27 saves in 9 seasons with the Cleveland Indians and the Rockies. Since becoming the closer in 2012 Betancourt has thrived, closing the door on 42 saves and blowing only 8 opportunities. Those numbers are solid but unspectacular and fit a scenario in which a pitcher like Betancourt serves as closer in the short-term while a long-term closer is groomed for the role.
Rex Brothers, he of the electric fastball and sub 1.00 ERA, is that long-term answer. His time might be now.
This weekend the Rockies placed Betancourt on the disabled list with a strained right groin. This gives Walt Weiss his first opportunity to hand the job to Brothers on a “temporary basis.” Presumably the company line will be that Betancourt returns to the role once he’s healthy, despite some recent struggles and the fact that Brothers has thoroughly out-performed him. To state as much to minimize drama is one thing; to follow through with that line of thinking is quite another.
By now we all know that players can and often do lose their jobs because of injuries. This two week stretch will likely be enough to cost Betancourt the 9th inning job. Presuming Brothers does not let the pressure of the job title or anything else get to him, he should pitch more than well enough to make it difficult for Weiss to remove him. If that is the case it is an easy transition: Betancourt shifts back to a set-up role, something quite familiar to him. Brothers is promoted to closer, a logical and inevitable move that is the best interest of the Rockies.
And hey, if that doesn’t work out, the Rockies did just recall a closer from their past in Manny Corpas. You can always just hand the reins to him, right? Anybody?