Betancourt Set for a Rockie Second Half

The Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Indians swapped age for youth yesterday, as Cleveland shipped stalwart relief pitcher Rafael Betancourt to Colorado for minor league pitcher Connor Graham. The move looks good for both sides. The Rox added a reliever they desperately needed, while the Indians cashed in on the career of a great relief pitcher who has shown signs of slipping in his age-34 season. 

Betancourt has been one of the better relievers in baseball over the course of the last seven seasons, posting a career 3.28 FIP, 8.98 K/9, and an excellent 2.37 BB/9. This impeccable command was the cornerstone of his success while tenured in Cleveland, especially during 2007, when he posted a 2.22 FIP on the shoulders of an incredible 1.02 BB/9.

While this career line may be that of an excellent eighth inning set up man or closer, the Rockies are not receiving such a pitcher. This season, Betancourt’s walk rate has skyrocketed to 4.4 BB/9 (although this is aided by an uncharacteristically high 4 UIBB in 30.2 IP). While his ERA sits at 3.52, he is benefitting from an unsustainably low LD rate of 12.3 %. More importantly, however, is that Betancourt is among the most extreme fly ball pitchers in baseball, making him as unsuited for Coors Field as anyone in the league. With a 0.59 GB:FB ratio, expect Betancourt’s FIP to balloon from a respectable 3.70 to somewhere north of 4.00. While this is still a quality bullpen arm, it is certainly not the makings of an eighth inning reliever a team can lean on in close games. 

With all the relief pitching that gets traded right around the deadline, the Rockies should have acquired a better fit for their team than a fly ball machine. But, with the the kind of pitchers the Rockies were already rolling with, Betancourt will still be a substantial upgrade. 

 

Thanks to Fangraphs.com for their contributions to this article.

Mike Silver recently completed his requirements for the Sport Management Major at THE University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he is a brother of Theta Chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity, the best house in the country. He is a huge Red Sox and Bruins fan, and longs for the days of the REAL Boston Garden, Cam Neely, and the ultimate Dirt Dog Trot Nixon. If you have any questions, you can reach him at mjasilver@gmail.com. Have a good night readers, and know that Mike hopes to hear from you soon.

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