The Colorado Rockies tinkered with their starting rotation, shifting Chad Bettis to the bullpen. The move is aimed to set both Bettis and the organization up for success in the future.
Bettis entered in relief of starting pitcher Tyler Anderson in Monday night’s victory versus the Washington Nationals and was able to slice through a potent offense, hurling three scoreless innings and retiring all nine batters he faced to keep the Rockies within striking distance.
“I think it was the key of the game,” Manager Bud Black said. “The Nationals had momentum, and Chad came in faced nine guys: nine up, nine down. He kept the game right there.”
The thinking behind the move to the ‘pen is that in a relief role, Bettis will be able to attack hitters from the onset and will not have to conserve as much energy. Allowing Bettis to pitch out of the bullpen enables him to crank things up a notch on the mound.
“There is a different mentality between starter and reliever,” Black said. “For Chad, I think his mindset, in general, is aggressive and attack. I think that’s elevated when he’s a reliever because he can come in in short spurts, be aggressive, pound the strike zone and turn the ball loose.”
Bettis is not a flamethrower on the mound, but he is strike-thrower who does an excellent job of keeping the ball on the ground.
As a starter, Bettis’ velocity would sit between 87-90 mph, but now as a relief pitcher, Bettis can add a little extra juice in a shorter window and sit between 92-95 mph.
Bettis has bounced around between the rotation and bullpen the last couple of seasons and has done so gracefully, something Black respects.
“He’s a true professional,” Black said “He’s unselfish, a team guy … He’s done everything we have asked in the last couple of years. Different roles in the rotation, out of the rotation and he does it with professionalism.”
For Bettis, he is intrigued and motivated in his new role. The right-hander feels like the move will make him more unpredictable on the mound.
“I do feel more comfortable, especially after working out of the bullpen last year,” Bettis said.
Last season Bettis struggled as a starting pitcher, posting a 5.28 earned run average. When moved the bullpen, he improved significantly, pitching to a 2.38 ERA.
“It frees me up mentally and physically,” Bettis said. “I feel like I am able to step on the gas and throw 92-95 mph… It’s a different mindset, but I have been working on some stuff mechanically to get to that point.”
Upon making the move to the bullpen, Bettis picked up some advice from fellow relief pitchers Scott Oberg and Wade Davis.
One tip they provided him with has to do with the power and drive in his delivery. Bettis has worked on staying more connected to the ground and transitioning power through his motion to throw more effective pitches.
Overall, Bettis feels confident in his new role and appears to be rejuvenated. His previous success as a relief pitcher has undoubtedly sparked some enthusiasm both in Bettis and the Rockies’ bullpen.
With relievers Jake McGee and Chris Rusin still out for the foreseeable future, the impact of Bettis’ will be magnified. Aside from Oberg and Davis, the Rockies bullpen is still looking for definition and Bettis has an opportunity to cement himself as a go-to for Black moving forward.