MLB Opening Day 2014: Chad Bettis could be key pitcher for the Colorado Rockies


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The Colorado Rockies have a number of options in their bullpen. The quality of those options, unfortunately, could be called into question, especially from the right side.

Matt Belisle‘s effectiveness has been waning, dating back to last season. Wilton Lopez is looking to rebound from a rough 2013, but at this point he is far from a sure thing. Adam Ottavino‘s slider is a good weapon, but Ottavino is still in the process of trying to prove himself.

Of the group, the guy with elite stuff is arguably Chad Bettis. The former second round pick took a swing at the starting rotation last season, though it was presumed by some that his solid fastball-slider combination was better suited for the bullpen. Competing for a relief spot, he has impressed this spring, showing his ability to miss bats as he has recorded nine strikeouts in nine innings of work while allowing only one run.

Manager Walt Weiss has been happy with Bettis’s spring, and rightfully so. Quoted in an article from Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post:

"‘We feel good about Bettis and what he’s turning into,’ Weiss said Wednesday.After delivering that praise, Weiss was asked bluntly if Bettis had made the team. Weiss, who still has roster decisions to make, smiled sheepishly and said, ‘He’s got a good chance.’"

Bettis’s best pitch is his slider, which he is able to use as an out pitch against right-handed and left-handed hitters.

That’s a tight pitch, and sometimes it resembles more of a cutter, as seen below:

Finally there is the development of Bettis’s change-up. For a while many people thought that Bettis was ill-equipped to be a starter because of his lack of a third pitch. Ironically it is the development of just such a third pitch, a changeup, that could make him a dynamic option in the late innings for the Rockies. See below:

Bettis still has experience to gain as a big league relief pitcher, but the quality of his stuff might thrust him into a prominent role in 2014, especially given the Rockies’ loaded schedule to start the season. Spring Training results are always taken with the proverbial grain of salt, but from the looks of Bettis’s stuff he is ready to step up for the Rockies’ bullpen.