I told Rafael Betancourt that he hadn’t hit a batter with any of his last 10,307 pitches thrown. He laughed, and said nobody had ever told him that before. “I remember it. It was Marcus Thames. Funny thing was? It was an 0-2 count,” the Rockies reliever said. When I asked if it was the last time he ever went inside, he only laughed. He wanted to protest, I could tell, but he also knew he didn’t go inside much.
The rest of the interview didn’t produce much, other than the fact that the deception he shows in his delivery wasn’t crafted. The way Betancourt’s arm comes up behind his head is just the way he throws the ball. “That’s the way I’ve always thrown the ball, even when I was a fielder, even when I played shortstop — but I feel that the ball is always coming from the same spot,” he said of his uncommon release action.
Even though he lives on the outside corner — and admitted as much — he didn’t really want to get into specifics about the adjustments he’d made to combat hitters hanging over the outside corner. You can see that he’s gone to the slider a little more over the years, and has even used the pitchfork changeup some more, but the location hasn’t changed.
Nor has his ability to avoid the free pass… or the hit batter.
With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.