Red Patterson has tried his hand at virtually every role.
The Dodgers pitching prospect had been a starter his entire career until he was moved to the bullpen last season, his third in pro ball. Now that his career has gone full circle and he's back in the rotation, he hopes his versatility will help him achieve his ultimate goal.
Patterson allowed one hit and recorded a season-high nine strikeouts over six scoreless innings Sunday afternoon as Triple-A Albuquerque defeated New Orleans, 7-4, at Zephyr Field.
"I think it went very well. I was trying to keep the ball down in the zone," Patterson said. "I would have to say my breaking ball was my go-to [pitch] today, I was throwing it for strikes and using it to get outs and strikeouts. It was one of those days where everything was working.
"My changeup was enough of a speed change to get a lot of the left-handers off the fastball. And I was able to spot it where I needed to."
The 26-year-old right-hander fell one strikeout short of matching his career high. He's fanned 10 batters three times, most recently for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga on Sept. 4, 2011.
Selected in the 29th round of the 2010 Draft out of Southwestern Oklahoma State, Patterson went 18-6 in 42 starts across three levels over his first two Minor League seasons. Chattanooga moved him to the bullpen last year and he went 7-1 with a 3.07 ERA in 47 relief appearances en route to being named a Southern League midseason All-Star.
Patterson began this season in Albuquerque, where he worked out of the bullpen before being called on for a spot start on May 30.
"It's been rough," said Patterson, who throws a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, spike curveball and changeup. "Starting out in the 'pen the last two years, I didn't have that starting pitcher mentality.
"I've had to pick up some starts on an hour or two hour's notice, depending on who has been called up or pulled from a start."
Making his third start of the season on Sunday, Patterson (3-1) threw 52 of 78 pitches for strikes and lowered his ERA to 4.19. He said he's still adjusting to his role as a member of the rotation.
"It really is a different approach. Out of the bullpen, you just go after hitters, but when you're starting, it is more about setting up hitters and not showing everything all at once,' the Texas native said. "You're setting them up for the next at-bat or two at-bats down the line.
"I'm mixing the two approaches, starting pitching and relief pitching, and making it my own because I know my job is to eat up innings. I try to embrace every role that they give me. Getting guys out is getting guys out, whether it's the ninth inning or the first inning, whether it's for one inning or six innings."
Patterson struck out the side in the first and fanned another batter in each of the next two innings. Gorkys Hernandez led off the fourth with a single, but Patterson retired the final nine batters he faced, striking out a pair to end the fourth, one in the fifth and another in the sixth.
It was his longest outing since pitching seven innings in his final start of the 2011 season. This year, he logged four frames in his first start on May 30 against Memphis, then allowed one run on seven hits over 4 2/3 innings on Tuesday against Oklahoma City.
"My objective is to get these guys out. I've been in every role possible -- short relief, setup, long relief, spot starter. I had been a starting pitcher all my life until last year," Patterson said.
"A couple guys, like Steve Ames, took me under their wing and showed me how to pitch out of the bullpen. It's a constant adaptation, adjusting on the fly."
Isotopes shortstop Justin Sellers went 4-for-5 with a double and three RBIs and center fielder Matt Angle chipped in two hits, including a three-run homer.
New Orleans starter Matt Neil (1-2) yielded six runs -- five earned -- on eight hits and two walks while striking out seven over four innings.