DENVER — Antonio Senzatela's season is over, and with it the Rockies pitching depth takes another hit.
Senzatela tore his ACL on Thursday, hurting himself as chased a ground ball during the second inning of the Rockies-Cardinals game. He will have surgery soon, and his recovery time is expected to be six to eight months. If everything goes as planned, he could begin ramping up again around the time the 2023 spring training begins. Being ready for opening day, though, is not a guarantee.
"That's a tough one for Antonio," manager Bud Black said. "I feel bad for any player who's season comes to an end because of injury, especially a lengthy one."
The team will be able to get by, for now. Austin Gomber, who lost his signature curve ball for half the season, has been pitching out of the bullpen. Chad Kuhl, who has been out since the beginning of August with a hip injury, will make a rehab start on Saturday. Either could fill Senzatela's spot in the rotation for the rest of the season. An off day on Monday will bye them a little extra time.
But soon, the Rockies will be confronted with their reality. They have, for the past few years, been able to rely on their largely-homegrown rotation, which has not performed this year. As a group they have a 5.26 ERA, the second-highest Major League Baseball. And now, the team will enter the offseason with only four healthy starters — Germán Márquez, Kyle Freeland, Ryan Feltner and Gomber.
Colorado has no minor league starters close to being major league ready, a fact that Black admitted on Friday afternoon. The Rockies expected Ryan Rolison and Peter Lambert to headline their next generation, but both are facing a long, challenging road back after missing their third straight season with injuries. Neither are currently playing.
Deeper down the farm system, future depth has also taken a hit. Helcris Olivarez and Sam Weatherly have been out all year with shoulder injuries. Chris McMahon and Jaden Hill just made their season debuts, but essentially both missed a crucial year of development.
So where can they go from here? Free agency is a possible answer, but it's not a path the Rockies have been known to take.
They've signed only three free agent starters since 2015 — Kyle Kendrick (2015), Jose Mujíca (2020) and Kuhl (2022). None made it through a full season.
Trades are also an option, but it's not a route Colorado has taken over the past two years. The Rockies have made only three trades under general manager Bill Schmidt, and none that turned out to fill an immediate need for the team. Sending Mychal Givens to the Reds did bring back two starters in Case Williams and Noah Davis, but neither are within reach of cracking the major league roster yet.
Extensions seem to be the likely route given Schmidt's track record over the past two seasons. Kuhl, on a one-year deal, has shown flashes at times, but hasn't had a good outing since his complete game shutout at the end of June. He currently has a 5.16 ERA.
José Ureña, signed to a minor-league deal at the end of May after he was designated for assignment by the Brewers, has been filling a rotation spot since July. He will also be a free agent after this season and hasn't been able to repeat the success he had in his first three starts. He had a 4.80 ERA heading into his start Friday night.