Colorado Rockies: Antonio Senzatela Making Noise in Rotation Battle

As the Colorado Rockies try to figure out the bottom of their 2017 rotation, 22-year-old Antonio Senzatela is demanding consideration.

A team that has traditionally struggled to put together an effective rotation, the Colorado Rockies will welcome any positive developments they see in their staff. 22-year-old Antonio Senzatela is certainly giving them something to chew on this spring.

Per MLB.com’s Thomas Harding, the young right-hander enjoyed his second consecutive strong showing in Spring Training on Monday afternoon. Senzatela tossed 4.1 scoreless innings against the Kansas City Royals, allowing three hits and striking out four. As the Rockies’ official Twitter account so aptly put it, he was “senzational.”

Last week, Senzatela faced off against the Texas Rangers. He fired three scoreless frames, surrendering just one hit with four strikeouts. His lone blemish this spring was another outing against the Royals on March 2, when he served up three runs on four hits over two innings. His ’17 Cactus League debut was a two-inning scoreless affair opposite the Arizona Diamondbacks.

After yesterday’s outing, Senzatela’s spring ERA stands at an impressive 2.38 through 11.1 total frames. The Rockies have to feel good about that regardless of whether or not the righty begins the year in the major league rotation. There may be some legitimate reasons to hold off on that, however.

As Harding notes, Senzatela has only made seven starts at the Double-A level in his minor league career (albeit to a sterling 2.08 ERA). That’s as high as he’s climbed thus far in five years in the Colorado system. Bringing him up this early wouldn’t be unprecedented, but it would definitely be a significant jump.

This is a Rockies team that hopes to be a factor in the National League playoff picture this year. They have just suffered a setback, however, with the hand injury to Ian Desmond. The lineup still has plenty of firepower, but the Rockies will want to put their best foot forward with their rotation as well if they want to have their best chance in 2017.

Rockies starters posted a combined 4.79 ERA last season, placing them 26th in baseball: the occupational hazards of pitching half your games at Coors Field. There are some talented young arms on this staff, though, that could drive some sizable improvements this year. Jon Gray, Tyler Chatwood and Tyler Anderson have shown promise and are all age 26 or under.

Senzatela isn’t the only prospect vying for a back-end rotation spot either. Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez and Kyle Freeland are in the mix as well.

Senzatela looks like he could join that group soon, but the Rockies will likely see how he fares with some more time at Double- and/or Triple-A first. They probably won’t ever have one of the league’s top rotations in Colorado, but new manager Bud Black aims to have a positive effect in that area. Senzatela’s encouraging spring could be the sign of an early success.

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