Welcome back, Antonio Senzatela.
There couldn’t be a better time for the Rockies starter to make his seventh season debut.
After tearing his ACL on Aug. 18, he had surgery, rehabbed, and will be back on the hill tonight, 261 days later, for the Rockies as they begin a three-game series against the New York Mets at Citi Field.
Senzatela debuted in 2017 and has made 117 starts since (as well as 26 relief appearances in 2017 and ’18), putting up a 39-42 record and a 4.88 ERA in 672 innings.
He’s much needed at the moment when the Rockies starting rotation is a shell of what it was on Opening Day. The fivesome of Germán Márquez, Kyle Freeland, José Ureña, Austin Gomber, and Ryan Feltner cycled through three times before beginning to dissolve.
Since the season started on March 30, the Rockies have made 16 transactions involving pitchers, including cutting one (Ureña), designating one for assignment only to have him land back in Triple-A Albuquerque (Ty Blach), and four Injury List placements (Márquez twice, Noah Davis, and Dinelson Lamet).
This week has been a roller coaster of emotions for Rockies fans after the gut punch of losing Márquez for likely 12-15 months. That’s a bone-deep cut with a small Band-Aid of a four-game winning streak that came after going 3-14 in their previous 17 games. Senzatela’s return could be some superglue to stop the bleeding.
In 2022, the Rockies needed eight different starters to complete the season. Only 36 days (31 games) into 2023, the seventh of the starter of the year, Connor Seabold, took the mound on Thursday. Senzatela will be the eighth on Friday.
Davis is on the 15-day IL with inflammation in his throwing elbow. The soonest he could come back is May 15. On Thursday, the Rockies recalled Peter Lamber from the Isotopes, so he could be another starting option down the road. The Rockies are also exploring other free agent options, but there isn’t much out there.
Seabold did his job, keeping the game manageable, despite giving up three homers in five innings. Bud Black said he hoped Seabold could go four innings, but he went five in a “serviceable” effort. He gave up three homers, but no one was on base for them. Black quoted Catfish Hunter in the postgame, recalling that Hunter used to say, “Solos don’t kill you.”
The Coloroado offense rallied, scoring four runs in the seventh and five more in the eighth on clutch hitting with runners on base, to help the Rockies win their fourth straight. Even better, the win marked the first series sweep of the season and the first in 38 series dating back to June 17-19 2022 against the Padres. That’s the longest the Rockies have ever gone without a sweep in franchise history.
Senzatela made two rehab starts for the Isotopes to prepare for his debut today. His first game was on April 25 when he gave up one run on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings. He got banged up pretty good in his next start, giving up nine runs (only six earned) on eight hits with one walk and three strikeouts in three innings.
Senzatela’s strength has always been producing ground balls, which he averages 51.5% of the time across his six seasons in MLB. The Isotope defense behind him wasn’t great. Even though the Rockies had their struggles in the field to start the year, it’s improved over the last week and they’ll need to be on their A-game to help Senzatela post a solid start tonight.
As DNVR’s Patrick Lyons wrote in December, Freeland, Márquez, Senzatela “have combined for 2,428.2 innings, more than any other trio for one team in MLB since the start of the 2017 season.”
With Senzatela’s injury last year and now Márquez’s absence, that reign could be coming to an end. At least Freeland is not alone. Senzatela’s return is most welcome.
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Elias Díaz has the fifth-highest batting average in MLB at .337, so this is not for him. The Rockies picked up Austin Wynns, who has played six games this season between the Giants and Dodgers, as a possible replacement for backup catcher Brian Serven, who is struggling at the plate this season, hitting .143/.143/.190.
Breaking down Kyle Freeland’s promising start as southpaw carries load for rotation in disarray | The Denver Post ($)
Kyle Newman highlights Kyle Freeland’s success and maturity as he is now the rock in the Rockies rotation with injuries and struggles for most of the pitching staff this season. Newman points out how Freeland has had to make significant changes since 2018, opting more for keeping hitters guessing rather than trying to overpower them. The article also has comments from Freeland, including one about the neck kink that ended his outing short on Wednesday doesn’t seem to be a big deal.
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On the Farm
Nolan Jones hit his ninth homer of the year (a two-run shot in the fifth inning) and Elehuris Montero hit his sixth homer of the season (a two-run shot in the first inning) and the duo combined to drive in seven runs, but it wasn’t enough for the Isotopes on Thursday. Jones and Montero also each doubled, while Aaron Shunck and Michael Toglia both went 3-for-5. The Space Cowboys, who had 22 hits in the game, held a 16-10 lead going into the bottom of the ninth before an Albuquerque rally came up short.
Hunter Goodman is playing out of his mind right now. He hit a walk-off two-run homer on a 2-for-4 night where he also doubled to lead Hartford to a win on Thursday. Goodman’s dominance atop the Eastern League leaderboards is clear: most homers (8), most RBI (24), and slugging percentage (.699). Kyle Datres also hit a two-run home run and Colin Simpson added an RBI single.
The Indians jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings and increased it to 7-0 after five innings on their way to victory on Thursday. Adael Amador went 2-for-6 and scored three runs and Jordan Beck, Juan Guerrero, and AJ Lewis each put up two-hit nights to lead the offense. Jarrod Cande earned the win, pitching seven solid innings and only giving up two runs on two hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Stockton struck first with five runs in the bottom of the first and kept adding throughout the game to seal Fresno’s defeat on Thursday. The Grizzlies put up two spots in the second and fourth innings and added more runs in the seventh and ninth, but it wasn’t enough. Parker Kelly and Robby Martin Jr. each had two-hit performances. Ryan Ritter drove in two runs for Fresno and Brayan Buelvas stole home.
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