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Rockies season review 2014: Chad Bettis couldn't get MLB hitters out

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We're ranking all 49 players who appeared in a Rockies uniform this season. We had high hopes for No. 49 entering the season, but he crashed and burned in the majors and now his future is very much a question mark.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe it was unfair of me to predict before the season began that Chad Bettis would have a breakout campaign out of the bullpen. In a small sample size, Bettis hadn't experienced any sort of real MLB success entering 2014, regardless of his role. And it's not like he was getting thrown into the best environment for a young pitcher.

But the reasoning was there: Bettis' stuff was playing much better as a reliever, and he had more than 40 innings of big league experience under his belt. Plus, the Texas Tech alum looked good in spring training, and he was another year removed from the arm surgery that cost him his entire 2012 season. Additionally, the Rockies seemed to finally have the right role pegged for him.

Unfortunately, none of those things worked to Bettis' advantage in 2014.

What happened

The 25-year-old right-hander's season got off to just about the worst start imaginable. Bettis surrendered three runs on four hits in the season opener in Miami, and things pretty much went downhill from there. He allowed two or more runs in seven of his 21 appearances, and the strong fastball-slider combination that he used to mow through hitters in the minors was completely ineffective against big league hitters.

By the numbers
Chad Bettis, 2014
IP 24⅓
ERA 9.12
FIP 5.52
K/9 4.7
BB/9 3.6
GB% 45.9
BABIP .384
rWAR -1.1

Bettis' average fastball velocity -- 93.2 mph -- was exactly the same as it was last season, but the pitch was even less valuable, according to Fangraphs. That's not easy to do considering it already had negative value in 2013, but Bettis generates little movement with the pitch, which is counterintuitive to what the Rockies usually look for with their pitchers. Bettis did boast a groundball percentage that was a bit better than average, but a lot of that can be attributed to his change-up, a pitch from which Bettis gets good downward movement and better results.

But what, if anything does that say about Bettis moving forward? In 2014, Bettis threw his change-up twice as much as he did the previous season. The pitch was a point of focus from the Rockies in spring training, so maybe the addition of the change-up cost Bettis some touch on his fastball. Whatever the issue is, it really only cost the 2010 second rounder at the big league level; Bettis was dominant in Triple-A, posting a 3.09 ERA and striking out nearly a batter per inning in 55⅓ frames split between Colorado Springs' bullpen and rotation. Of course, minor league hitters often struggle with good change-ups, but Bettis needs more and better offerings if he wants to have any sort of success in the majors.

2014 grade: F

The Rockies were counting on Bettis to take a big step forward, and he simply didn't, with the low point coming in late May when the young righty served up a grand slam to Hector Sanchez in a game against the Giants that went into extra innings. When it was all said and done, Bettis had allowed more than two baserunners per inning, let half of the runners he inherited to score and owned an ERA+ of just 47.

What to expect in 2015

The Rockies have a lot of issues to address in their bullpen, and Bettis' inability to step up in that role is no small reason why. It's too early to give up on a guy with Bettis' pedigree, especially when considering he was on the fast track to the big leagues before missing 2012. But it's also possible that he won't ever fully recover. Bettis' startling lack of command at the upper levels is a huge concern, and it will hold him back until ... well, until it doesn't. But he's got a long way to go.