Chad Bettis is inching closer to making his return to the big leagues after dealing with two bouts of cancer. The 28-year-old righty completed another rehab start Thursday, throwing 84 pitches, allowing five runs, three of which were earned, and striking out five in 5 2/3 innings for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes.
The outing marked progress — it was the first time Bettis pitched into the sixth inning this summer — but before Bettis rejoins the Rockies, he’ll make at least one more start with the Isotopes, manager Bud Black said Friday.
“Chad threw pitches into the sixth inning, which was great,” Black said. “Fastball was up a tick velocity wise, which was good to see. His breaking pitches were effective at times. I think Chad would tell you he’d like to be more consistent on the secondaries. But all in all, it was another good step for him.”
Black said that Bettis, who completed chemotherapy treatment in May, will pitch again in five or six days for the Isotopes. It will mark Bettis’ fourth start with Albuquerque. Bettis has a 5.93 ERA in 13 2/3 innings in Triple-A.
When he returns, Black will be forced to make a decision about who gets squeezed out of the starting rotation.
Rookies Kyle Freeland (3.71 ERA) and German Marquez (4.11) rank a respective first and second among Colorado’s starters in earned run average. Jon Gray, who’s got a 23.4 percent strikeout percentage, leads the Rockies’ starters in strikeout rate. That could leave Black with four names — Jeff Hoffman, Tyler Chatwood, Antonio Senzatela and Bettis — and only two spots.
“When Chad Bettis comes back (from a rehab assignment), some guys will have to be moved out of the rotation,” Black said Thursday, per the Denver Post. “We will have seven guys who we can look at as starting pitchers. And we’ll need to look at who we want to start and who goes to the pen.”
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