As the ERA leader and the arguable brightest spot of the 2020 rotation, should 25-year-old Antonio Senzatela take the ball for the April 1, 2021 opener?
Colorado Rockies Starting Pitchers - 2020
Opening Day in 2021 is against the Dodgers. If the Opening Day starter stays on a five-day cycle through the month of April, they will face the Diamondbacks at home (4/6), Giants on the road (4/11), Mets at home (4/16), and Astros at home (4/21). Three of those teams have a top-10 wOBA in 2020 (and the reigning AL-champion Astros aren’t one of them).
With four of those five starts in Denver, the Rockies could certainly benefit from putting a starter out there with home successes in 2020.
Senzatela tossed the Rockies’ lone complete game of 2020 against an Oakland Athletics squad that is running away with the AL West. His next deepest performance came in mid-August, as he shut out the Astros for eight innings in Houston. He worked into the seventh against the Dodgers on Sunday, holding them to a single run.
Senzatela has shown for a 2.10 ERA at home this year, and his work shows that he has handled tough opponents.
He’s also worked deeper into starts this year than any other Rockies starter—which plays well with a bullpen that has allowed a fair share of runs this year.
In July, Lucas Zenobi of Pitcher List ran a deep analysis on Germán Márquez, concluding he was “The Perfect Pitcher for Coors Field.” Zenobi talks plenty about Márquez’s strong campaign in 2018, addressing how his “dominant swing-and-miss ability” played well at 20th and Blake even more than his home ERA suggested. Márquez’s swinging strike percentage (SwStr%) in 2020 is 12.3 percent, which is on par with his career average. Meanwhile, Senzatela has shown for an 8.3 this year.
Márquez’s 2020 home ERA is 5.68, however; it was 4.76 a year ago.
It deserves to be noted that Márquez’s FIP (3.43) bests Senzatela’s (4.34). FIP is often referred as a better predictor of future performance than ERA. Other “most effective” predictors—xFIP and SIERA—are also in favor of Márquez.
There is one performance on the year that really skews the comparison between Márquez and Senzatela. If you take away Márquez’s five-inning, 10-earned-run showing on August 20 (or more specifically, two innings where all 10 were scored), the two starters would have a near-identical ERA.
Kyle Freeland has made a huge leap forward in 2020. Following a fourth-place finish in the 2018 NL Cy Young voting, he posted a 6.73 ERA in 2019. He was even sent down to Triple-A Albuquerque last year. His 3.75 ERA in 2020 is the second-best among Rockies starters, but it also comes with a 4.46 at home.
Along with Márquez, Freeland’s FIP, xFIP and SIERA are better than Senzatela’s.
Márquez was the Opening Day starter this year. Freeland had the honor in 2019, and Jon Gray did so in 2017 and 2018. With six days remaining in the regular season, all but the injured Gray are set to toe the rubber at least one more time.
Who will start Opening Day in 2021?
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Nolan Arenado’s regular season is officially over. The Rockies placed him on the 10-day IL on Monday, listing “left AC joint inflammation and a left shoulder bone bruise” as the official reason.
Colorado subsequently recalled outfielder Sam Hilliard from the alternate training site. Hilliard started in right field for the Rockies on Monday night, batting eighth.
After initial reports of Arizona Fall League expansion, the league will not take place at all in 2020. Earlier in the month, it was announced that instructional camps will be allowed, so there can be some form of action at Salt River Fields this fall.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler has announced left-hander Drew Smyly as his starter this evening, but Kapler keeps up a trend of delaying his starting pitcher announcements. (This is not the first time the Giants have implored such strategy in 2020.) San Francisco’s starters beyond today are still unannounced, making it difficult to forecast the Rockies lineup for left/right platoons.
Smyly was revealed on the MLB.com probable starter list just prior to Monday’s game. Wednesday could be Giants right-hander Logan Webb’s turn in the rotation. Meanwhile, Colorado has announced their starters through Thursday (Freeland, Castellani, Gonzalez).
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