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Rockies need Antonio Senzatela to bounce back from consecutive rough starts

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The rookie hurler hit a rough patch his last two turns through the rotation.

DENVER—Colorado Rockies rookie Antonio Senzatela brings a 6-1 record and a 3.67 ERA into his Friday start against the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field. By simply looking at those numbers, it’s tough to imagine the 22-year-old right-hander having any struggles.

But in his last two starts he logged just five innings in each, allowing eight earned runs on 12 hits and seven walks. Fortunately, neither outing resulted in a blemish on Senzatela’s record, thanks to the Colorado offense scoring a total of 17 runs. The team split the two games.

He’ll need to be better against an experienced and successful lineup Cardinals lineup tonight. What he needs to do in order to achieve that improvement isn’t rocket science, according to Rockies manager Bud Black.

“He’s gotta command the fastball. He pitches with his fastball a great deal, so he’s gotta get it in good spots, which he’s very capable of,” Black told reporters Friday afternoon at 20th and Blake. “He’s got a slider that’s shown solid break at times this season, and we’d like for that to show up again tonight. The changeup has got to come into play for some of their hitters.”

Senzatela used his changeup more in his last start than he had in any other regular season outing. Reds hitters went hitless against the pitch, according to BrooksBaseball.net, a positive step forward considering batters are hitting Senzatela’s changeup at a .364 clip in 2017.

Still, the usage and development of the pitch are necessary to keep hitters off of the fastball, which is Senzatela’s best pitch but also can become predictable.

“With him, it comes down to fastball command and mixing in secondaries effectively,” Black explained. “If he does that, he’s gonna be fine.”

The manager is confident that will happen.

“He’s gonna pitch a good game,” Black quipped.

The Rockies will need it. Despite going 7-3 on their recent road trip, the Rox are still just one game ahead of the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks, who enter play Friday 30-19.