Wed Sep 11 5:02am ET
The St. Louis Cardinals have taken control of the National League Central in the second half of the season, and one of the reasons is the right arm of Dakota Hudson.
Hudson is 15-6 with a 3.40 ERA and has been nearly unbeatable since July 4, going 9-2 in 12 starts. He'll try to continue that upswing when he faces the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night in the second of a three-game series at Coors Field.
Colorado won Tuesday night's series opener, 2-1.
Hudson has made 28 career starts, all in 2019, his second year in the majors, after pitching 27 games out of the bullpen last year. He has shown he belongs in the rotation, putting up a 3.23 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break.
His last start was one of his most impressive, allowing just one hit in six shutout innings against the San Francisco Giants on Thursday. It was the fourth time in his last five starts he didn't allow a run and earned praise from St. Louis manager Mike Shildt.
"Dakota did a nice job," Shildt said after the Cardinals' 10-0 win. "Obviously six shutout innings and was in control. He did a nice job of pitching with the lead, which we staked him to in the first. A lot of quality pitches and good stuff. It was another nice, really quality outing from Dakota."
He gets his first start at Coors Field when he matches up against Colorado right-hander Antonio Senzatela. Hudson is 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA in four career games against the Rockies, and he was impressive in his one start against them. He pitched two-hit ball over six shutout innings in a 6-0 St. Louis win on Aug. 24.
While Hudson has thrived over the past two months, Senzatela (8-10, 7.19) has struggled mightily. The righty owned a 4.83 ERA through June but in the six starts since then, he has a 16.15 ERA and has allowed 41 hits over 20 2/3 innings.
One of his shorter outings came Aug. 25 in St. Louis when he allowed six runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings of Colorado's loss. He will be making his sixth career start against the Cardinals, having gone 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA overall against them. He is 1-1 with a 5.11 ERA in two starts against them at Coors Field.
Senzatela isn't alone in his struggles on the mound. Colorado's starting staff has been hit hard all season, and the team is last in the NL in ERA (5.59). The Rockies' two-year run into the playoffs has come to a crashing halt this season, and pitching is a big reason.
Part of the problem for Colorado's arms has been their inability to finish off at-bats when they get opposing hitters into two-strike counts.
"It's just a matter of finishing (innings) off and making pitches," Rockies manager Bud Black said recently. "There's really no simple answer to it. He (Senzatela) is aware of this and he's trying to make pitches and get the third out for sure. At that moment, he has to make better pitches to get the third out. It's as simple as that."
--Field Level Media