DENVER -- Even with a starting staff that has been first rate since the start of July, the Colorado Rockies have more room on the rotation bandwagon to get even better.
Right-hander Chad Bettis appeared to be turning a corner exactly at the same time the rest of the rotation did, but a blister that he developed in a start against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 1 cost him a month on the sideline.
Bettis (5-2, 5.67 ERA) was left to watch as the Rockies' rotation shifted into high gear. Entering Saturday's game against the Dodgers, the Rockies' starting staff had a 3.43 ERA going back to June 28, the fifth-best mark in the National League. And at home, the Rockies had held opponents to one run or fewer seven times going back to July 2.
Bettis' first start upon returning from the disabled list was not one to remember as he gave up nine runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also walked two batters.
"Chad, when he's on, he hits the glove," Rockies manager Bud Black told the Denver Post. "I don't think we saw the best of Chad ... hitting the glove."
The second start of Bettis' return will take place Sunday against the team he was facing when his blister developed. He figures to be aided by the momentum of teammate Ryan McMahon's game-ending three-run homer in Saturday's 3-2 victory over the Dodgers.
One pitcher who knows all about blisters is the Dodgers' Rich Hill (5-4, 3.62). If Bettis wants any inspiration, all he has to do is to look at Hill's numbers after the lefty returned from a month on the DL with a blister on the middle finger of his left hand.
Since June 19, Hill is 4-2 with a 2.45 ERA in nine starts, plus a one-inning relief appearance just before the All-Star break. Hill has not given up more than two earned runs in any of his last four starts as he heads to Coors Field, where he has not pitched since 2008 as a member of the Chicago Cubs.
As good as Hill has been, he wants even more from himself. Take Tuesday's start at Oakland, when he took a one-hitter into the sixth inning and still yearned for more.
"I can pitch better, that's what I think," Hill said, according to mlb.com. "I could have been a little more efficient. It's one of those games. I should have went deeper in the game, but it didn't work out that way and the bullpen did a heck of a job."
Hill is 0-4 in his career against the Rockies with a 6.00 ERA in five starts. Bettis is 2-2 in his career against the Dodgers with a 5.14 ERA in 13 appearances (10 starts).
While Hill's health problems no longer seem a concern for the Dodgers, they have worries in other areas of the pitching staff. Manager Dave Roberts might have to plan his upcoming bullpen moves without closer Kenley Jansen for possibly a month, according to one report.
Jansen is on the DL after being hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat, a situation that arose after the Dodgers arrived in Colorado early Thursday morning. The Dodgers plan to go with a closer-by-committee situation until Jansen is able to return.
On Saturday, that responsibility fell to right-hander JT Chargois, who was one out away from a 2-0 victory before McMahon's three-run homer.
Rockies hope Bettis joins party vs. Dodgers
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