Monday Rockpile: Chad Bettis' Fastest Route to the Majors Could Be the Bullpen

Wrong team, wrong Bettis. Seriously though, I didn't have a picture of Chad Bettis available.

Bettis removed from game with triceps tightness | On the Rox — Colorado Rockies news — Denver Post

Troy Renck brings us a bit of unpleasant news from Sunday. Chad Bettis, #4 Purp, was removed from his relief outing after only pitching 1 of his scheduled 3 innings with triceps tightness.

Bettis, 22, had a very strong 2011 in High-A Modesto, leading the league in innings pitched (170) while going 12-5 in 27 starts. He struck out 9.8 per 9 innings, walked 2.4, and finished the season with a 3.34 ERA (2.73 FIP).

Bettis' situation is an interest one of pursuing a player's upside vs helping the MLB club in whatever way possible. Bettis throws a nasty sinker/slider combo right now, and is developing his curve/change. Not exactly the kind of arsenal we'd like to see out of a starting pitcher, especially when you consider that having fastball command and a strong feel for a changeup is one of the key developmental steps for Rockies' pitchers. Then again, Drew Pomeranz is pretty much a Fastball/Curve pitcher (although he's gonna have to make that changeup a stronger pitch if he's going to reach the Ace ceiling attributed to him), and Juan Nicasio is a Fastball/Slider pitcher (also, is working on his changeup).

A 2-pitch pitcher doesn't seem like the best idea for a rotation member (unless you're a knuckleballer - because then you're really like a 10 pitch pitcher if you consider unpredictable your knuckler is), which has led to suggestions of bullpen conversion. John Sickels sees Bettis as having a ceiling as a #3 starter or a closer.

If we think about it a little more though, trying to push a pitcher with 0 innings about A ball into a MLB rotation is risky at best. Were Bettis to remain a starter, AA Tulsa would be the best course of action in my mind.

Off Topic

Right now, if we assume that Drew Pomeranz and Juan Nicasio are both rotation locks, that leaves 1 job for Jamie Moyer, Alex White, Chad Bettis, Christian Friedrich, Josh Outman, Guillermo Moscoso, and Tyler Chatwood to fight over, and that's not even taking Jorge de la Rosa into account in May/June.

If we look at the bullpen though, we're only seeing guaranteed spots for Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle, Rex Brothers, and Matt Reynolds. Josh Roenicke seems to have an inside track to a spot, but past that it's guys like Edgmer Escalona and Esmil Rogers. Who's to say that Chad Bettis couldn't take his talents to the 6th/7th inning in Denver? Bettis seems like the kind of pitcher who could back his way into a MLB rotation.

However, the Rockies' front office has also hinted that he might be converted to a reliever, creating a quicker path to the big leagues.

Similar to how David Price and Neftali Feliz got their MLB chops from the closer's spot, the Rockies could possibly look to guys like Bettis, White, and Edwar Cabrera as MLB surprises in the pen and then stretch them out in subsequent seasons to take rotation spots as other pitchers move on.

Bettis was quoted as saying that he doesn't see the injury as that big of a deal. Triceps tightness is a bit ambiguous, but really, there's no reason to push this guy right now. Bettis is a good talent and a hard worker, and I'll wager that he'll find himself in the majors one way or another.

* * *

Rox Girl made mention of Matt Reynolds' status in the pen as questionable given Manager Jim Tracy's penchant for matchups. Renck's comment from yesterday was as such:

He's being counted on to be a left-on-left specialist even though he was much better against righties (.217 average) than lefties (.292, six home runs) last season.

Let's reframe this comment into another field:

"Well gee, Matt, I know that you're an expert in PERL and PHP development and have many non-trivial projects build in said code, but we saw you using a Windows 7 laptop, so we're really counting on you to excel in .NET and C#."

Matt Reynolds is a decent relief pitcher. This is a situation, though, where we really should look at the splits and not just assume that he's better against lefties because he's a southpaw. Take a look for yourself:

Matt Reynolds

Career FIP/xFIP v RHP: 4.52/4.02

Career FIP/xFIP v LHP: 4.38/3.15

Oh.

Well, this speaks highly to Matt's ability to get the lefties out, but maybe his situational splits should be looked at differently. Renck's right in the batting average comment, as he's allowed a career .205 AVG against v RHB, but a .246 v LHB. Reynolds is a better overall pitcher against lefties, but with 2 outs, a runner on 3B, and Bruce Bochy is bringing out Nate Schierholtz, I think I'd rather see Brothers out there than Reynolds.

Seriously, this little rant kind of backfired. That "Oh" was me actually pulling up Reynolds' page and then realizing that Reynolds is in fact better against lefties. I'm just being smug in the sense of "well, I did more research than just looking at which hand he throws the ball with". I think.

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