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Chad Bettis' filthy curveball "is back"

Jake Shapiro Avatar
July 22, 2016

 

DENVER – Colorado Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis has had an up-and-down 2016 season so far coming on the heels of a breakout 2015. Through an NL-leading 20 starts, 115.1 innings pitched, he has a 5.31 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. Nothing to be too proud of but advanced metrics say he has been okay sporting a 3.92 xFIP and a 1.8 WAR.

No matter which numbers say what, Bettis has been unhappy with his performances. Yet the month of July over his last four starts something has changed with the righty that has made him look like he did last year. It’s one simple thing really, his curveball is working again.

“I would say my curveball,” Bettis told of the difference maker in his marvelous start Thursday. “Definitely, that variance in speed came into play all night long, Nick (Hundley) and I got together before the game and we knew we needed to do something a little bit different and that’s what it was.”

Over his past four starts, Bettis has thrown 26 innings with a 3.46 ERA. He seems more controlled and confident on the rubber.

“I think a little bit a both,” Bettis responded to a question about if feel or execution was the reason for his improved breaker. “I was getting a better feel for it, which plays into the confidence and being able to throw it and execute it well… understating of the variance and how well that plays for me, it’s back.”

As he noted the 27-year-old can throw a sharp breaker and slow hanger, the slow anger is a more effective pitch but he’s only able to throw it a few times a game. He used one against Ender Inciarte against the Braves to get him going last night. He said after the game, “It was huge for me and moving forward knowing I can throw that at any time. It was a great feeling.”

“He can add and subtract on that curveball,” Walt Weiss noted following the game. “Can be anywhere from 72 to 78 so it’s like having a few different pitches.”

 

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Above shows opponents isolated power against Bettis’ curve, when opponents struggle to hit the pitch, it’s the key to the Colorado starter’s prosperity.

“I really like the way he used his curveball,” Weiss explained. “He used it a lot, got a lot of strikes and a lot of outs, it creates separation for the hitter that is tough to deal with.”

Indeed Bettis uses that separation to induce weak contact and that’s why his cat-and-mouse style with his curveball is a recipe for his success.

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