With a worn down bullpen and stumbling rotation, the Rockies realigned their pitching staff on Sunday. Right-hander Jeff Hoffman and left-hander Sam Howard were recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque. To make room for them, right-hander Antionio Senzatela was optioned to the Isotopes, and veteran infielder Mark Reynolds was designated for assignment.
The Rockies pitching staff currently has the second highest earned run average in franchise history -- the second highest since installation of the humidor at Coors Field in 2002. Only once in the seasons of five highest ERA in franchise history -- not counting the partial season of 2019 -- have the Rokcies had a winning record. That was in 1996, the second year of Coors Field, when the Rockies were 83-79.
Hoffman and Howard provide a right/left addition to the bullpen for now. What remains to be seen is if Hoffman will be inserted into the rotation in place of Senzatela. With Senzatela having started on Saturday, his spot in the rotation will next come up on Thursday afternoon in Washington. Hoffman last started last Wednesday, which puts him in a position where he could work an inning or two on Sunday, and still be in position to start at Washington.
Chi Chi Gonzalez, who has shown signs of potential in three emergency starts with the Rockies, started on Saturday at Albuquerque, which would put him on normal rest if the Rockies decided to recall him for that start. Gonzalez is 0-2 witha 5.14 ERA in the three starts he has made for the Rockies.
A former first-round draft choice of the Texas Rangers, Gonzalez missed the last two seasons in his recovering form Tommy John surgery. Howard, the Rockies third-round draft choicein 2014, made his Major League debut last year with the Rockies, allowing one run in four innings of four appearances.
Senzatela had stepped into the rotation in mid-season 2018 and was expected to take a major step forward this year. He did -- initially -- but in his last six starts it has been a struggle. His ERA is 3.78 higher in his last seven starts than it was in his first 11. While he is 3-3 in the seven starts, he has allowed six or more runs in four of the seven starts, including each of the last three when he has given up 21 runs in 11 innings, but did get one win -- a 10-9 decision against the Reds on July 14 when he was charged with eight runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Reynolds came into the season, a veteran bat, used to coming off the bench, but it has been a struggle. In his previous tenure with the Rockies, Reynolds hit .282 with 14 home runs in 2016, and .267 with 30 home runs in 2018. He signed with the Nationals a year ago, but returned to the Rockies in 2019. Among other things, he was looking for six home runs, which would have brought his career total to 300, and would have made him the player with the most career home runs to never appear in an All-Star Game. As it his, he had four home runs, increasing his career total to 298, one home run behind former Angels outfielder Tim Salmon, who had 299 home runs and was never an All-Star.
Reynolds, however, was used sparingly this year with the Rockies having signed Daniel Murphy to a two-year, $24 million contract off the free-agent market.
Murphy had problems early, suffering a broken finger in the second game of the season. After sitting out 25 days, Murphy did return to the Rockies lineup on April 24, playing with a brace on the finger. It was apparent he was struggling because of the broken finger. He was hitting .212 on May 29, but has hit .338 since May 30. Murphy's resurgent figured to limit Reynolds' playing time even more.
The Rockies would like recalled Pat Valaika once they reduce their pitching staff by one. Valaika has not enjoyed success in his big-league time this year, but has been an impact bat in his stints at Albuquerque, and he would provide a more versatile player than Reynolds Valaika can play all four infield positions and left field.