Competition for Colorado Rockies’ starting rotation spots down to three

There’s one less contender for the two open spots the Colorado Rockies have in their starting pitching rotation. The team announced Thursday that it optioned left-hander Jeff Hoffman to Triple-A Albuquerque.

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Kyle Freeland is in the running to earn a spot in the Rockies' opening day starting pitching rotation. (Matt Kartozian/USA Today Sports)

Kyle Freeland is in the running to earn a spot in the Rockies' opening day starting pitching rotation. (Matt Kartozian/USA Today Sports)

There’s one less contender for the two open spots the Colorado Rockies have in their starting pitching rotation. The team announced Thursday that it optioned right-hander Jeff Hoffman to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Hoffman, 24, was acquired from Toronto in the Troy Tulowitzki deal in 2015. He pitched most of last season in the minors but was called up for his first big-league action in August. Hoffman wound up making six starts and recorded a 4.88 ERA in 31 1/3 innings with the Rockies.

The decision to demote Hoffman leaves three players competing for the two starting pitching spots: 22-year-olds Antonio Senzatela and German Marquez, and 23-year-old Kyle Freeland. Neither Freeland nor Senzatela have pitched in the majors. Marquez has a little big-league experience. He threw 20 2/3 innings across six appearances near the end of last season.

Strong springs have vaulted Freeland and Senzatela into the competition. Freeland has a 2.25 ERA and 14 strikeouts versus three walks in 16 innings. Senzatela had a 4.20 ERA with 15 strikeouts and one walk prior to taking the hill Thursday.

Rockies manager Bud Black said Colorado was “getting closer” to determining the full five-man rotation Wednesday, per the Denver Post.  Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson and Tyler Chatwood already have three of the spots locked down. Chad Bettis had a fourth spot clinched until he learned earlier this month that he’d have to undergo chemotherapy to fight cancer he previously believed he’d beaten.

The Rockies begin their season April 3 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Their home opener is April 7 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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