Spring Training News & Notes: February 14-15

Deivi! (Via NYY Player Dev)

Here is some good news: this weekend is the last weekend without Yankee baseball until at least October. (Hopefully, of course, it’s the last weekend until November. One step at a time.) We’ll have broadcast info this week once all the networks release their schedules. That will tell you when the Grapefruit League games are and where you can watch them, so keep an eye out for that. It should be ready early next week.

Until then: news! There was a lot of new Astros stuff but 1) you probably already know it all and 2) I am sick of talking about them so I’m not going to get into it today. The Astros are lame and I hope they fall flat on their faces all season. That’s that on my end. Anyway, here is the big stuff that’s happened since we last did one of these updates, which was on Thursday.

Yanks Sign Chad Bettis

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Hooray for a new signing! The Yanks signed 30-year-old righty Chad Bettis (Bryan Hoch) and that is easily the biggest Yankee-related news of the last few days. It’s a MiLB deal (Jon Heyman) that comes with a $1.5 million base salary plus incentives if he makes the MLB squad. (Joel Sherman)

Bettis is a real feel-good story. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in December 2016 and, in March 2017, found out that it spread and he needed chemotherapy. He obviously recovered and is now pitching again. Very easy to root for a guy like that.

As for Bettis the pitcher, he owns a 5.12 ERA (4.59 FIP, 109 ERA-) in 600.2 IP, all of which have come with the Rockies. He spent most of 2019 as a reliever, appearing in 39 games, throwing to a 6.08 ERA (5.16 FIP, 120 ERA-) in 63.2 innings for Colorado. While he doesn’t strike out many guys (14%), he does limit walks (7%), which is nice. He can be a bit homer prone, but he also pitched in Colorado, so.

He throws a low-to-mid 90s fastball (avg 93 mph) alongside a sinker, changeup, cutter, and curveball. In particular, Bettis really relies on the change (35% of the time) and his curveball is nice. It has an above-average spin rate (2500+ rpm) and it generated a ton of whiffs in 2019 (40% whiffs-per-swing). It’s always been good, but it was especially good in 2019. That’s nice to see.

We can now add Bettis to the list of potential candidates for a fifth starter now, and if not, potentially as a back-end reliever. The more the merrier, obviously, and, as I said, it’s easy to root for Bettis.

Leftovers

  • Deivi Garcia is in camp, and you can see some dramatic, slow-motion video of him playing catch here. (NYY Player Development)
  • Aaron Judge is in town! He is very large. (Marly Rivera)
  • Aaron Boone called Kyle Higashioka an “elite receiver” today, another indication that he’s the likely backup this year. (Lindsey Adler) Boone, of course, is correct about this. Higashioka rates very well by pitch-framing metrics.
  • Gary Sánchez, as you know, is working with Tanner Swanson on his defensive positioning. Pete Caldera has more. Here is more video, as well:
  • Swanson also had some thoughts about robot umps that I thought were interesting given his emphasis on framing. (Brendan Kuty)
  • Gerrit Cole and David Cone may sit down for a one-on-one conversation about the art of pitching. (Jack Curry) Sign me the hell up for that.

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1 Comment

  1. Mungo

    The numbers Bettis put up in Colorado are not inspiring, but it’s also a tough environment for his style. As I noted yesterday, the last season he was a starter, 2018, Bettis put up a 2.88 road ERA, averaging about six innings per start. If that guy shows up, he can be useful. He throws ground balls, with nearly a 61% (60.8) GB% in 2019, and over a 50% rate for his career. I’m not expecting much, but there’s more here than the “average” non-roster minor league pick up. Wouldn’t be shocking if he stuck, either as a starter early on if Montgomery shows he’s not quite ready, or an option out of the pen.

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