Dodgers @ Rockies April 10, 2022: Urías and Co. look for first series win of the season

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After dropping the second game of the season last night by a score of 3-2, the quest for an undefeated season has come to an end, as the best record possible for the Dodgers is now 161-1. In all seriousness that was a very winnable game, so hopefully the division race isn’t as desperate as it was last year.

Even with Austin Barnes hitting the first home run of the season for the team, they simply couldn’t stop old friend Connor Joe, who went 2-4 with 2 RBI including the go-ahead homer off Blake Treinen in the eighth inning. As so often happens with off-speed pitches in Colorado, Treinen’s slider hung perfectly in the zone for Joe to put in the bleachers, while Daniel Bard shut the door in the ninth, striking out the side. The game with Tony Gonsolin on the mound against German Marquez was the pitching matchup that would most favor the Rockies, but the advantage swings back towards the Dodgers today, with Julio Urias on the mound against the right-handed Antonio Senzatela.

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12:10 PM PDT Denver
RF Betts 1B Joe
1B Freeman (L) LF Bryant
SS T. Turner 2B Rodgers
DH Muncy (L) DH Cron
3B J. Turner 3B McMahon (L)
C Smith RF Grichuk
CF Bellinger (L) C Díaz
LF Taylor CF Daza
2B Lux (L) SS Hampson

The addition of the designated hitter was always going to vastly benefit the Dodgers, however their most formidable offensive pitcher last year was Urías, who outperformed a handful of the Dodgers bench players last season. Urías slashed .203/.217/.237 with twelve hits in 70 plate appearances, with a 31.4% strikeout rate. Not an offensive powerhouse by any means, but he had a higher batting average than Billy McKinney (.146), Sheldon Neuse (.169), Luke Raley (.182), and Steven Souza Jr. (.152), and a lower strikeout rate than all of those besides McKinney. Not that anyone needed a reminder, but the bench depth last season was painful.

The offense had a strange lackluster performance yesterday with the team not drawing a single walk, a pretty rare feat for a group of players with considerably high plate discipline. Freddie Freeman hit a ball 418 feet to dead center in the eighth inning last night that would’ve given the team a 5-2 lead if it cleared the wall, but it was caught towards the top of the wall and naturally the Dodgers went on to lose that game. Max Muncy will bat cleanup again today, but will be the designated hitter for the first time this season. Will Smith is back in the lineup after having the day off yesterday, Gavin Lux is still hitting ninth, but looks considerably more comfortable than he did at any point last season, and Cody Bellinger is batting seventh, still looking for his first hit of the season.

The Rockies will field an all right-handed lineup besides third baseman Ryan McMahon. They’ve scored three runs in each of the first two games, and Urías will look to keep them at bay as the offense tries to put up some runs against Senzatela.

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Here’s how Urías and Senzatela matchup.

In 2021, Urías finished seventh in the NL Cy Young voting, a fantastic season for the 25 year-old lefty who feels like he’s been around forever despite still being so young. He had the second lowest walk rate in the National League last season, with the only other starting pitcher giving up less free bases being Senzatela with just a 4.8% walk rate, compared to 5.1% for Urías. He faced Colorado four times last season, with a 4.74 ERA in those starts, and pitched in Colorado three of those times. He had a 4.34 ERA in Colorado, with his worst performance against the Rockies coming in early April at home. Colorado is sending out a lineup full of right-handed batters, but Urías handled both left and right-handed batters equally well last year.

Senzatela was scratched from his final Cactus League start last Sunday, but it looks as though his injury if any was significantly minor as he makes his season debut today. In the beginning of October, the Rockies signed Senzatela to a five year extension, totaling $50.5 million, a great payday for the Rockies home grown starter. Since his debut in 2017, he’s been one of the more reliable members of the Rockies’ rotation, tossing 579.2 innings over the last five seasons. He’s not a strikeout guy by any rate, with a career average below 16%, but his ability to generate ground balls helps him in the batters park that is Coors Field. He has a 4.84 ERA and a 4.42 FIP over his career to date, but after adjusting for park factors, he’s been essentially a league average starter, with a career 99 ERA-, and 97 FIP-.

In four starts against the Dodgers last year, Senzatela had a 7.11 ERA, allowing 15 earned runs in just 19 innings. If you excluded his four starts against the team, Senzatela would’ve had a 4.05 ERA last season, instead of the 4.42 he posted. Overall, in 2021 Senzatela pitched better than he had in years past, posting 3.5 fWAR over his 156.2 innings, with his biggest development being limiting home runs, so 2022 will be interesting to see if that’s an anomaly or if he figured something out and continues to improve.

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Not a ton of noteworthy news since yesterday.

Good to hear that Edwin Rios is feeling well to start the year.

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The Dodgers have an off day tomorrow as they travel to face the Twins Tuesday and Wednesday. As those games get closer there will be more updates as to the weather and future pitching plans.

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First pitch is at 12:10 PM PDT on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!