Rafael Betancourt
Rafael Betancourt
43-Year-Old PitcherRP
 Free Agent  
Free Agent
2018 Fantasy Outlook
There was no outlook written for Rafael Betancourt in 2018. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
$Released by the Rockies in August of 2015.
PFree Agent  
February 26, 2016
Betancourt announced his retirement from Major League Baseball on Friday, LiderEndeportes.com reports.
ANALYSIS
The 40-year-old played 12 seasons in the majors, splitting his career between the Indians (2003-09) and Rockies (2009-15) and posting a career 3.36 ERA across 685.2 cumulative innings. Betancourt appeared in 10 career postseason games, highlighted by five appearances in the 2007 ALCS, which Cleveland ultimately lost to Boston.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
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2003
Working as the Rockies' closer once again to begin 2013, Betancourt seemed to be humming along just fine until a rash of injuries disrupted both his season and, potentially, the remainder of his career. Bouts with groin soreness and appendicitis landed him on the disabled list on two occasions, but a sprained elbow that ultimately required Tommy John surgery in September was truly the kiss of death. With a major arm operation on his ledger, Betancourt, now a 39-year-old free agent, is unlikely to get signed, as he will almost certainly miss the entire 2014 campaign. The reliever has indicated that he still wants to pitch again, but considering his advancing age, it will undoubtedly be more difficult for him than a younger pitcher to recover from the procedure and regain his effectiveness.
After proving quietly effective in middle relief for years, the 37-year-old Betancourt finally got his chance as a full-time closer and succeeded, notching 31 saves in 38 chances. Although Betancourt's flyball tendencies were some source of concern heading into the season, he actually saw his groundball percentage climb by five points while striking out a batter per inning and maintaining his sterling walk rate. While Betancourt will open 2013 as the Rockies' closer, there is a risk Betancourt could be traded if the Rockies fall out of playoff contention since he's in the final year of his contract. That could lower his fantasy value since there's a decent chance he'd be used in a setup role with a new team.
Betancourt has always displayed the skills that would make him an excellent closer, but that opportunity evaded him until the Rockies gave him a look in the ninth inning down the stretch last season. After taking over the job in August, Betancourt converted 8-of-9 save opportunities as part of a dominant second half, where he carried a 39:1 K:BB in 27 innings. The Rockies will enter the season with him as their closer after trading Huston Street to San Diego. Although he's a flyball pitcher prone to surrendering his share of long balls, Betancourt's miniscule walk rate mitigates the damage. He'll turn 37 in April, but there's reason to believe that he'll succeed and be undervalued on draft day in his new role.
Last year was Betancourt's most dominant season to date. He raised his strikeout rate to a career high 12.9 K/9IP, while lowering his walk rate to 1.2 BB/9IP. If it hadn't been for a .331 BABIP, he probably would have posted career lows in ERA and WHIP as well. Success is nothing new for Betancourt as he has posted a sub-3.00 ERA and sub-1.100 WHIP multiple times in his career. Moving forward, he should continue to excel as a setup man and provide great value to owners should he ever find himself closing games.
Although the Rockies declined the $5 million option on Betancourt for 2010, they still consider him a fit and offered him salary arbitration, which he accepted. He posted a 1.78 ERA in 32 appearances for the Rockies in 2009, including a 15-game scoreless streak in August. Perhaps most impressive, though, was the 29:5 K:BB ratio Betancourt accumulated during his stay in Colorado. He's shown flashes of brilliance in years past, notching four seasons with a sub-three ERA since emerging in 2003, and would be a solid fantasy addition if he were ever able to take hold of the full-time closer's role.
Betancourt wasn't likely to repeat his dominant 2007 season, but he jumped off a cliff and barely got the ripcord pulled before he met "terra firma" as he came crashing back to earth. The strikeout rate (64 in 71 innings) dropped off slightly but the big issues were with the long ball (11 last year versus four in 2007) and a loss of control (25 walks versus nine walks in 2007). He'll rebound some, but it's hard to imagine that he'll ever get a real shot to close out games again with Jensen Lewis around to take over if anything happens to new closer Kerry Wood.
Betancourt was quite possibly the second best reliever in baseball last season, trailing only Seattle's J.J. Putz. Betancourt owners had the Borowski Voodoo Dolls out all season but he never was able to grab hold of the closer's role, finishing the season with just three saves. Borowski's been brought back at $4 million, so it'll be more of the same for Betancourt in 2008. Masahide Kobayashi figures to see some late-inning work as well and presents a possible hurdle for Betancourt if Borowski were to spit the bit. It should be noted that he's tested positive for a banned substance before, so another infraction would be costly and he's had his problems staying healthy in the past. He's coming off a career high in both appearances and innings pitched but the Indians' medical staff is among the best in baseball. He's an excellent staff filler behind a shaky closer, but almost a sure bet to take a small step back.
On the surface, Betancourt was so-so in his third season in the big leagues (3.81 ERA in 56.2 innings), but he was stellar after the All-Star break. After struggling to an 0-3 4.73 first half, Betancourt ramped up to a 3-1 with three saves and a 3.00 ERA after the break. With the Tribe's bullpen in a state of flux, it's hard not to see Betancourt in at least a setup role; with a distinct shot at closing. A nice sleeper to tuck away.
Take away Betancourt's July and he might have been one of the best relievers not closing games in the big leagues. A 10-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug and a bum shoulder gave him a rough month, but outside of that, he pitched 62 innings allowing 49 hits while striking out 61. The tougher drug policy makes Betancourt a bit risky, but three-straight strong and similar seasons shows what this former position player can do on the mound.
Betancourt had a good rookie year in the Indians' bullpen. A former shortstop in the Red Sox system, he displayed fine control of three slightly above-average pitches. Betancourt is not closer material, but he could be a good set-up man for quite a while. As a relative newcomer to pitching, he should have a "fresh" arm despite missing all of 2002 to elbow surgery. His success in 2005 will depend on how much help the Indians can assemble around him.
At 29, Betancourt's opportunities are beginning to wane, but he pitched well in 2003 and could be a major part of Cleveland's bullpen.
More Fantasy News
Rafael Betancourt: Released By Rockies
PColorado Rockies  
August 28, 2015
Betancourt was released by the Rockies on Thursday.
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PColorado Rockies  
August 23, 2015
Betancourt was designated for assignment Sunday by the Rockies, MLB.com's Thomas Harding reports.
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PColorado Rockies  
August 8, 2015
Betancourt will continue to work in middle relief, with Tommy Kahnle named to the closer role Saturday, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports.
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PColorado Rockies  
August 5, 2015
Betancourt recorded just one out and was tagged for three runs on two hits and a walk in Tuesday's loss to the Mariners.
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PColorado Rockies  
July 31, 2015
Betancourt was mentioned as an option to close for Colorado with John Axford removed from the ninth-inning role, the Denver Post reports.
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