The Colorado Rockies will send rookie starting pitcher Chad Bettis to the mound tonight against the Philadelphia Phillies. He was roughed up in his last start against the Baltimore Orioles back in August 17th, giving up eight runs in 2.2 innings, although only two of those runs were earned. He has four starts under his belt since being promoted to the major leagues earlier this month: two starts went well, and two didn't, resulting in a 5.30 ERA in 18.2 innings to begin his career. With the Rockies out of the pennant race and looking to the future, they have nothing to lose by putting Bettis in the rotation. Let's see what they may get out of him.
Bettis pitched college baseball at Texas Tech. He struggled somewhat as a freshman in 2008 (6.75 ERA over 12 starts) but was more effective upon moving to the bullpen in 2009 (3.59 ERA in 73 innings, seven saves). He was used as both a starter and reliever in 2010, going 7-4, 4.41 in 86 innings, collecting 10 saves, posting a 102/33 K/BB ratio. This got him drafted in the second round that spring.
He looked great in his pro debut, posting a stellar 1.07 ERA in 67 innings between Tri-City in the Northwest League and Low-A Asheville, with a 56/13 K/BB ratio. He was very effective in the California League in 2011, going 12-3, 3.34 over 27 starts, with a 184/45 K/BB ratio in 170 innings.
Unfortunately, he missed all of 2012 with a strained shoulder muscle. Surgery was avoided and the Rockies were cautious about bringing him back and pushing him too quickly. He has shown no ill effects from the injury this year, posting a 3.71 ERA in 63 innings for Double-A Tulsa before his promotion, with a sharp 68/13 K/BB ratio.
Bettis is a 6-1, 200 pound right-hander, born April 6, 1989. His fastball tops out at 96 MPH when he goes for maximum velocity, but he varies speeds with the pitch. It is usually in the 92-94 range but he will work it as low as 88-89 MPH with sinking action. His breaking ball is defined as a slider by scouts, but as with the fastball he'll run up and down the velocity ladder; the slider can be as high as 88 and as low as 75. Bettis has developed a good changeup to complement the fastball and slider; Carson Cistulli has some video of the pitch.
There was some question early in his career about his role, if he would be a starter or reliever, but the development of the changeup fills out Bettis' arsenal and makes it more likely that he'll start, as long as durability isn't an issue. His command has wobbled in his first few major league outings, but it was quite sharp in the minors.
Bettis is making the jump from Double-A without any Triple-A experience, so some adjustment issues are likely unavoidable. Nevertheless, If he stays healthy, Bettis projects as a solid mid-rotation starter for me.