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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