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Colorado Rockies option starting pitcher Jeff Hoffman to Triple-A

The highly touted righty will begin the 2017 season in the minors.

The Colorado Rockies announced on Thursday that starting pitcher Jeff Hoffman has been optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque. The news presumably means Hoffman is out of the running for the Rockies’ rotation, leaving Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, and Antonio Senzatela battling for the final two spots.

The 24-year-old righty and centerpiece of the Troy Tulowitzki trade had posted a 4.76 ERA with four strikeouts and two walks across 5 ⅔ innings in Major League Spring Training. This came on the heels of an uneven 2016 season that saw him put up a 4.02 ERA with 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 22 starts in Albuquerque as well as a brief stint with the Rockies in which he posted a 4.88 ERA with just 22 strikeouts to 17 walks in eight appearances (six starts). While this move means we won’t see him in the opening day rotation, it remains highly likely he’ll be called on to contribute to the big league team at some point during the season.

Of the remaining rotation candidates, Freeland, the 23-year-old lefty, would appear to be a frontrunner. After a rough first outing, he has allowed just one run across 14 innings in his last four appearances, walking just one while striking out 12. Senzatela, a 22-year-old righty, has also had a strong spring thus far that shows up more in his 15-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio than it does in his 4.20 ERA. Judging by Spring Training performance, Marquez, another 22-year-old righty, seems to be a distant third, his 8.00 ERA and 7-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio coming in well behind what we’ve seen from both Freeland and Senzatela. It’s worth noting, however, that Marquez saw a brief big league stint in 2016 and held his own, while neither Freeland or Senzatela have any Major League experience.

With opening day less than two weeks away, final announcements on the starting rotation should be coming soon. As always, we’ll keep you updated as soon as we get more information.