Rockies’ Senzatela returns to mound as starter vs. Giants
Senzatela will take the turn of Jon Gray, whom the Rockies optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque last Wednesday. A member of Colorado’s Opening Day roster, Senzatela began the season as a long reliever and went 2-1 with a 6.23 ERA in 10 appearances.
The Rockies optioned Senzatela, 23, to Albuquerque on May 4. They wanted to have him build up arm strength to again start, feeling his ultimate value was in that role rather than in the bullpen.
Senzatela went 3-1, 2.15 in eight starts at Albuquerque with 12 walks, 42 strikeouts and one home run allowed in 37 2/3 innings. He was forced out of a June 6 start in the first inning due to a right groin strain and didn’t start again until June 23 when he threw 74 pitches in 3 1/3 innings and allowed two runs (one earned). Senzatela threw a season-high 90 pitches Wednesday against Sacramento and allowed three hits in 7 2/3 scoreless innings.
Despite having never pitched at the Triple-A level, Senzatela was part of Colorado’s Opening Day rotation in 2017 and was the National League Rookie of the Month for April when he went 3-1, 2.81 in five starts.
He ended the season 10-5, 4.68 in 36 games (20 starts), and Rockies manager Bud Black said that experience should benefit Senzatela, whom the Rockies moved to the bullpen last year when he began to wear down and to monitor his innings. After pitching just 34 2/3 innings at Double-A in 2016, Senzatela threw 134 2/3 innings for the Rockies last season.
“He’s a year older,” Black said. “He’s throwing the ball well. He was our best pitcher the first two months last year, so he’s done it before. Last year, he just ran out of gas.
“I’m excited about Senza. We’ve seen Senza on this stage before in the big leagues and perform and pitch well. And he’s coming off a pretty good stretch of games in Albuquerque, especially his last one. He was nicked up a little bit with a leg problem, but he’s over that. You look at the collective numbers of what he did in Albuquerque, it’s good pitching.”
Senzatela is 3-0, 4.24 in five games (three starts) against the Giants and 9-3, 5.28 in 23 games (11 starts) at Coors Field.
The Giants are 11-6 in games started by Stratton, who was not involved in the decision Wednesday at San Francisco when he faced the Rockies and gave up eight hits and five runs in four innings in San Francisco’s 9-8 loss.
Stratton is 1-0, 6.19 in four games (three starts) against the Rockies. In two starts against them this season, he is 1-0, 8.00. At Coors Field, Stratton is 0-0 3.86 in two games (one start).
Stratton, 27, made seven relief appearances for the Giants in 2016 and last year went 4-4, 3.68 in 13 games (10 starts) for them.
“Strat came up last year and was really impressive with his overall stuff and his command of it,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Got off to a great start this year. He’s had a couple hiccups; he did (his) last start. But he handles everything well. Four-pitch guy.”
Stratton has had to assume more responsibility this season as Giants starters Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija were sidelined with injuries — the latter two are still out. Dereck Rodriguez, Andrew Suarez and Derek Holland have stepped in and helped stabilize the rotation behind Stratton.
“You see he has a sense of belonging up here,” Bochy said. “He was kind of our guy. Now the rest of the guys have picked up their pitching. But Strat with Bum down, Cueto down, Samardzija down, he became like the guy. He was the one leading the staff.”