Welcome back to the big leagues, Antonio Senzatela.
The right-hander will make his first start back from the COVID list this afternoon as the Rockies look to pick up a series win over the Cubs. Senzatela’s last MLB appearance was on July 7 in Arizona, and he joined the team at Coors Field on Tuesday after gearing up with the complex team at Salt River Fields.
In his last five MLB starts, Senzatela tossed a 4.50 ERA in a combined 30 innings. Those outings lowered his season ERA to a 4.58, and his 4.18 xFIP is the currently the best of his career. His fastball use shot through the roof in his last two outings, jumping above 70% use after normally ranging in the 50’s.
Senzatela averaged a 95.7 MPH heater in his last start, a season high. That figure will be one to follow after a 29-day big league absence.
Jake Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young winner, takes the ball for the Cubs while holding the highest single-season ERA (6.20) and WHIP (1.660) of his career. He has recorded a 14.73 ERA over his last three starts (7 1⁄3 IP), and has failed to complete a second inning in two of those three outings.
The Cubs’ starting pitchers have combined for the third-highest starter ERA in the National League (4.69) this year, so there hasn’t been abounding competition for Arrieta to lose his spot in the rotation. He’s also getting paid $6 million this year, which brings its own degree of job security.
Arrieta throws a primary mix of sinkers and sliders. Both pitches have seen a steady decline in velocity over the past three years, but the right-hander can still flirt with mid-90’s action on rare occasion. He’s preferred curveballs more than sliders when he’s ahead in the count this year, but will still toss the slider on the outer half to put righties away.
Historically, Arrieta sees a fair amount of called strikes—which could bode well for the Rockies today as they try and hunt a 6.20 ERA in Denver. Arrieta’s last start at Coors Field was in 2018, as he allowed three earned runs over six frames.
Senzatela will go to work today against the ninth-worst wRC+ in the big leagues, and a predictably worse figure after the Cubs were left ravaged at the trade deadline. Arrieta will face the worst wRC+ in the league, although the Rockies have fared much better at home. Both teams have combined to score 24 runs in 18 innings this series, so the offense hasn’t been as quiet as their season wRC+ figures may suggest.
Start Time: 1:10 p.m. MDT
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain (COL), Marquee Sports Network (CHC), MLB.TV
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM; KNRV 1150 (Spanish)