According to multiple reports Saturday morning, the Yankees signed right-handed pitcher Chad Bettis to a minor-league contract. Bettis posted a 6.08 ERA in 38 games (three starts) with the Rockies last season.
With James Paxton sidelined until May at the earliest to begin the regular season, the Yankees need additional pitchers to back up J.A. Happ and Jordan Montgomery at the back end of the rotation. Bettis has been a starter for most of his major-league career. He posted a career-high 32 starts with Colorado in 2016, earning 14 wins and pitching to a 4.79 ERA.
Bettis has dealt with a lot of adversity in recent years as he was limited to just nine starts in 2017 because of testicular cancer. He returned to the Rockies in August of that season and threw seven shutout innings in his 2017 debut.
While his career 5.12 ERA is far from impressive, there’s one aspect of Bettis which could serve the Yankees in the Bronx—his groundball percentage. Since the start of the 2018 season, Bettis has posted a 53.4 groundball rate. That’s the sixth-highest groundball rate in the majors
Another thing to keep in mind is the “Coors Field effect.” Bettis—who’s spent each of his first seven major-league seasons with the Rockies—has a 5.82 ERA in 303.1 innings at home. His ERA on the road is nearly a run-and-a-half lower at 4.42 in 297.1 innings.
Of course, Bettis will have to win over his teammates and manager. Remember in July of last season, he hit Luke Voit in the face with a fastball. Voit left the game but didn’t miss any additional time due to the injury. There wasn’t any intent to hit him with the pitch, but it prompted Aaron Boone to say after the game “throw the ball over the plate.”
Now, is Bettis going to win a Cy Young award during his tenure in pinstripes? No. Probably not. However, I see Bettis as a potential spot starter over the course of the year. Heck, with the club playing 22 games in a 23-day span in April, he could see time on the mound early on in 2020.
Remember, Masahiro Tanaka has pitched better in his career on extra-rest (3.60 ERA, .632 Opp. OPS on six+ days rest as a starter vs. a 3.78 ERA and a .710 Opp. OPS in his career on normal rest). You could insert Bettis in from time-to-time over the grind of a long season to give your primary starters an extra day to recover.
I also see Bettis coming in with runners on base (in not overly vital situations). For example, let’s say the Yankees are up 7-2 in the sixth and there are runners on first and second with one out in the inning. I can easily imagine Boone would bring in Bettis and his high groundball rate in from the bullpen to procure a double play.
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Bettis may not play the biggest role for the Yankees in 2020, but he certainly can play a role in the Bronx.