8/22/2013 11:55 P.M. ET
Nicasio learning to battle through tough times
Rockies right-hander avoiding big innings, improving on overall numbers
By Michael Radano / Special to MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- In the case of Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio, the numbers don't lie.
Nicasio worked 5 2/3 innings -- allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits on Wednesday night in Colorado's 4-3 loss to the Phillies in which he received a no-decision. The difference between Nicasio now and earlier this year, before he was sent down to Triple-A Colorado Springs, was in full display at Citizens Bank Park.
In a game that could have gotten away from the young righty, Nicasio fought through several tough innings and did what every starter wants to: he kept the Rockies in the game.
"It wasn't easy, but he only gave up two runs," manager Walt Weiss said. "He gave us a chance to win and that's what we talk about with our starters. That's what he did. I tried to get him through that sixth inning, but he got a couple runners on and I went and got him.
"He's been better. He's stayed away from that big inning that was getting him the first time he was up. We've definitely seen some growth since he's been back."
Before Nicasio was sent down on June 25, he went 4-4 in 16 games with a 5.31 ERA, while opponents hit .271 off of him. Over 81 1/3 innings, he struck out 56 and allowed 89 hits.
By comparison, since his return July 12, Nicasio has gone 3-2 with a 3.83 ERA and has held opponents to a .241 average. He's still allowed over one hit per inning pitched, but his 32 strikeouts in eight games is an improvement.
"With nobody out [and the bases loaded in the fifth inning on Wednesday], I tried to keep the ball down and make it one run and I'd be fine," Nicasio said. "I made it through. It's my location of my fastball that has made the difference."
For the 26-year-old, that ability to locate has aided his confidence, which in turn has led to a maturity on the mound that has allowed Nicasio to better attack situations and not have the type of innings that plagued him in the first half of this season.
Betancourt exits due to sprained right elbow
PHILADELPHIA -- Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt felt something in his right elbow and exited amid a 5-4 loss to the Phillies on Thursday night. The club announced after the game that Betancourt has a sprained right elbow and he will have an MRI on Monday.
Betancourt left with two outs and the game tied at 4 in the ninth after he surrendered a game-tying infield single by Michael Young. Betancourt blew his second save in as many nights after he blew just one save in his first 17 chances this season.
Betancourt has battled the injury bug all season. The veteran closer sustained a groin injury and was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 1. On July 20, he returned to the DL after a bout with appendicitis.
"You come out of the game, it's usually not good," manager Walt Weiss said. "He felt something in his elbow.
"He didn't mention anything about it [before the game]. Raffy has been great in the closer role. He's dealt with a couple of injuries, but he's a warrior."
Brothers one-third of Rockies' stout 'pen trio
PHILADELPHIA -- Even though Rex Brothers' availability was in question on Thursday night after three consecutive days of work, Rockies manager Walt Weiss is thrilled to have the 25-year-old lefty in his bullpen to go with closer Rafael Betancourt, who missed a month due to an appendectomy, and Matt Belisle. They give Weiss the type of late bullpen trio that every manager looks for to close out games.
"It's good to have Raffy back, and even in the last couple of games has allowed us to use Rex in ideal situations," Weiss said.
"It's been nice to set up our bullpen the way we have. Since Raffy has been back, and last night, we did well, and it set up very well. But no one is perfect, especially in that role. But I've said it before, give me a one-run lead, and I'll go with Raffy every time."
Betancourt's blown save on Wednesday in a 4-3 loss to the Phillies was only his second of the season in 18 attempts. Entering Thursday, Belisle had allowed just four runs in his last 19 1/3 innings, while Brothers has been equally effective, including 3 1/3 scoreless innings in this four-game series at Citizens Bank Park.
• Right-hander Roy Oswalt had a productive simulated game on Thursday. The veteran starter has been out since July 4 with a left hamstring strain and, according to manager Walt Weiss, Oswalt will need at least one more simulated start on Sunday in Miami or Monday at Coors Field depending on how he feels.
• Tyler Chatwood (elbow inflammation) had a good simulated start and looks prepared to go out and make a rehab start, according to Weiss.
• "You get the best out of a player when you can play him consistently," Weiss said of Corey Dickerson, who started the series finale against the Phillies on Thursday night. The rookie left fielder, who made his Major League debut in June, is 3-for-12 on the current road trip.
"It's tough to come off the bench as a young player and be successful as a pinch-hitter, but he's going to get a chance to get a lot of at-bats in this league and he's going to hit."
Michael Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.