Right-hander Chad Bettis was once a top 100 prospect and then a quality member of Colorado’s rotation, but health issues have played a role in stalling his progress over the past few seasons. Bettis underwent surgery for testicular cancer entering 2017, eventually making a courageous return to a major league mound later that year. He went on to log a sizable number of innings with the Rockies from 2018-19, though he missed time last season with a hip impingement and couldn’t match his prior production when he did pitch. Bettis wound up amassing 63 2/3 innings, most of which came as a reliever, and opposing offenses tattooed him for a 6.08 ERA/5.16 FIP.
In the wake of Bettis’ struggles, the Rockies moved on from the 30-year-old a couple months back in lieu of paying him a projected $3.8MM via arbitration. Now a member of an uninspiring free-agent market for starters, Bettis told Jon Morosi of MLB Network Radio on Tuesday that he has taken steps forward as he seeks a return to health. Bettis, who underwent bilateral hip surgery, revealed that he feels the best he has physically since before he beat cancer. At that point, Bettis was coming off a pair of 2.0-fWAR seasons in which he combined for a 4.57 ERA/4.11 FIP with 7.06 K/9, 3.02 BB/9 and a 50.5 percent groundball rate across 301 innings.
As mentioned, Bettis endured a noticeable dip in on-field production more recently, but there were some positive signs during a trying 2019. For instance, he averaged 93 mph on his fastball – his highest mean since 2014 – and induced ground balls at a whopping 60.8 percent clip. Of all pitchers who threw at least 60 frames last season, just four forced grounders at a superior rate.
Even though Bettis did offer reasons for hope last year, odds are that the overall disappointing results he posted from 2018-19 will force him to settle for a minor league contract this winter. Regardless of whether he lands a guaranteed deal, Bettis and his next team will hope he can revisit the form he showed during the respectable couple seasons he enjoyed as a member of the Rockies.