On Saturday, Antonio Senzatela made a start for the Colorado Rockies, taking the place of Chad Bettis in the rotation against the Atlanta Braves. With the move, Bettis was officially ushered into a bullpen role, a position he hasn’t been in since 2014.
Bettis has posted a 5-2 record for the Colorado Rockies this season with a 5.42 ERA in 19 starts. However, in his last seven starts, the ERA has ballooned to 8.31. Despite allowing just one earned run and three hits in 6.1 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 12, when Senzatela was eligible to come off the disabled list after suffering shoulder soreness, he was slotted into the spot in the rotation occupied by Bettis.
The 29-year-old Bettis hasn’t been in the bullpen since 2014, a season where he posted a 9.12 ERA in 24.2 innings covering 21 games. As our Jake Shapiro wrote about in this article, the right-hander’s time in the bullpen that season was anything but successful. Bettis gave up four hits and three runs in his first outing of the season on March 31 and never had a monthly ERA below 5.23 the rest of the campaign as he bounced between Triple-A Colorado Springs and the Rockies.
Bettis knows 2014 wasn’t successful and remembers it well, talking about it with Shapiro during Colorado’s recent road trip to Milwaukee.
“It didn’t (go well). Anybody would be lying if they told you it went well,” Bettis told Shapiro when asked about 2014. “That being said, I learned a lot from that experience. Whether it’s that or whatever the case might be, I’m here to win and help the team win. Big picture, we’re in the playoff race and we’re trying to win. If that’s what will help the team the best, that’s what I will do.”
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Flash forward four seasons and Bettis once again finds himself as a reliever, but also with a different mindset. The veteran of the Rockies rotation when the season began, Bettis has not only learned how to serve as a mentor but also perform in the national spotlight after his much-publicized return from testicular cancer.
An ability to learn from previous experiences (and a change in Colorado’s fortunes) make Bettis willing to work with manager Bud Black, pitching coach Steve Foster and bullpen coach Darren Holmes on the change.
“It’ll be fine. I’ve done it before,” Bettis told Shapiro. “I think I’m a little better prepared this year opposed to when everything happened in 2014. I think I’m better for it. I’m definitely more prepared. There are some experiences I can definitely learn from and take advantage of.”
It is certainly possible that Bettis returns to the rotation by season’s end. Injuries are always a possibility. However, for now, Bettis will look to impact Colorado’s chances at a playoff in a relief role. Can he adapt to the mindset for the first time in four seasons? It’s one of the things Rockies fans will be watching as the end of August grows ever closer.