Change in strategy benefits Bettis

Rockies starter effective with curveball in win over Braves

July 22nd, 2016

DENVER -- Facing the Braves for the second time in six days, Rockies starter flipped his strategy. The result was his best start in two months in a 7-3 win over the Braves on Thursday night.

Bettis held the Braves to one run on four hits over 6 2/3 innings with three walks and four strikeouts. It was the fewest runs he's given up since his May 17 start in St. Louis.

When he faced the Braves July 16 at Turner Field -- and didn't figure in the decision in the 4-3 Rockies victory -- he threw 18 changeups and seven curveballs. On Thursday, Bettis reversed course: 19 curveballs and five changeups among 87 pitches.

"I think you have to take into account what your game plan was and how well you executed the game plan five days ago before you face them again and then work off of that," Bettis said. "You have to switch something up and get a little creative."

In Atlanta, six of Bettis' seven curveballs were balls -- an indication that he could not entice the Braves to swing. But Thursday, Bettis' curveball was especially effective late in the count. Two of his four strikeouts came on curveballs in the dirt -- including a punchout of  with two on and two out in the fourth.

He picked up another strikeout on a slider in the dirt.

Bettis started working more on burying his offspeeds in his June 26 start against Arizona, and is reaping the benefits.

"I really like the way he used his curveball," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He used it a lot and got a lot of strikes, a lot of outs with it. That creates separation for the hitter that's tough to deal with. He looked like he had his A game going.

"He can add and subtract on that curveball. It can be anywhere from 72 to 78 [mph], so it's like having a couple different pitches."

Another key for Bettis was keeping the ball on the ground. Bettis generated 10 groundouts to one flyout. One of the biggest grounders resulted in an double play to end a threat in the second inning.

"Especially pitching here, I think making sure the ball is down in the zone, it's harder to lift those pitches and get them in the air," Bettis said. "It's something I've always believed firmly and stuck with since college is to just work down with everything and come up when I need to."