Colorado Rockies: The Time is Now for Jeff Hoffman

Feb 29, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jeff Hoffman (74) poses for photo day at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 29, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jeff Hoffman (74) poses for photo day at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

As we approach the end of July, the season’s finishing line is approaching on the horizon. The Colorado Rockies made one move earlier this week with an eye to the future with the promotion of outfielder David Dahl from AAA. With 62 regular season games left, it is time to promote starting pitcher Jeff Hoffman.

Over the last 30 games the Rockies starters (Jon Gray, Jorge De La Rosa, Tyler Anderson, Tyler Chatwood and Chad Bettis) have a combined average ERA of 4.14, which compares with an ERA of 4.48 prior to the All-Star break.

The Rockies have had a decent month of July with a 11-11 win-loss record. As of today, they sit 6.5 games out of the second Wild Card. There is still hope for the rest of the season, though they have been given only a 2 percent chance to make the postseason.

Gray, Anderson, Bettis and Chatwood are not going anywhere, but what about the future of De La Rosa? General manager Jeff Bridich said earlier this month the Rockies are going to keep “all their options open.”

“As I’ve said before, we are going to keep all our options open and we are going to continue doing our jobs as we have done in the past,” Bridich repeated via Nick Groke of the Denver Post. “We are going to keep our eyes and ears open to everything.”

It is very hard to gauge where Bridich sees the Rockies in terms of where he sees them in the trade market. Are they buyers? Or are they sellers?

Groke listed De La Rosa as the No. 2 pitcher on the Rockies as the best trade candidate due to him being in the final year of his contract.

"2. LHP JORGE DE LA ROSA2016 salary: $12.5 million, final year of contract.Selling point: Veteran starter with a habit of getting better late in the season.Possible landing spots: Baltimore Orioles, they’ve shown interest in him before."

Let’s assume De La Rosa does get dealt before the non-waiver trade deadline on August 1. This opens up a spot in the rotation. The Rockies could fill the spot with previous starters in Jordan Lyles or Chris Rusin.

However, the best option would be to promote Jeff Hoffman from AAA Albuquerque.

So far for the Isotopes, Hoffman has gone 5-8 (in 19 games) with an ERA of 3.95, 37 walks, 110 strikeouts, a batting average against of .261 and a WHIP of 1.34.

Hoffman was the main prospect piece back from the Toronto Blue Jays in the Troy Tulowitzki deadline trade last season. He has worked his way up from High-A ball (3-3 record, 3.21 ERA), to AA (2-2 record, 3.22 ERA), and now to AAA over the course of the last year.

He has had an up-and-down season for the Isotopes in 2016, going from a low of two ER in several games to a season-high eight ER given up on July 5 in just 4.2 innings.

However, Hoffman had his best outing of the season last night for the Topes – he pitched five strong innings only allowing three hits, seven strikeouts and zero ER in a 8-4 win over Salt Lake City.

Indeed, Hoffman’s effort made the list of the top prospect performances of the night from

"No. 45 overall prospect Jeff Hoffman (Rockies’ No. 4) needed just 76 pitches to collect seven strikeouts and twirl a gem for Triple-A Albuquerque. The right-hander gave up three hits and one unearned run in five innings in the Isotopes’ 8-4 win."

Hoffman effectively mixed his mid-to-upper 90s fastball and a mid-70s curveball to keep the Salt Lake hitters off-balance.

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“I think it’s big as long as you can establish the fastball,” Hoffman said via Chris Jackson of “If you can’t establish the fastball, you notice guys sit on the curveball all the time early. Unless you have that fastball that they know is going to be in the zone, that makes the curveball ineffective and that makes the fastball ineffective as well. When the fastball is in the zone, that’s when you see my best outings.”

The 2016 Baseball Prospect book graded Hoffman as a B-plus prospect (h/t John Sickels of

"As you no doubt know, Hoffman was drafted in the first round by the Blue Jays in 2014 despite needing Tommy John surgery. He came back quickly, pitched well, then was traded to the Rockies in the Troy Tulowitzki blockbuster deal. The surgery hasn’t hurt his arm strength at all: he immediately regained his 93-96 MPH fastball with peaks at 98-99. Scouts rate his curveball as high as 70 on the 20-80 scale. The change-up isn’t as good as the fastball and curve but it is usable and should improve with more innings. Hoffman’s strikeout rate is not as high as you’d expect given his stuff and he’s probably a little less refined than the surface numbers and his reputation imply. Another year in the high minors to polish the change-up and build his stamina back up seems wise. Watch for any spike in K/IP, which would presage an accelerated timetable. Grade B+."

Though spending another full year in the minors is commendable, the time is now to see what Hoffman can offer at the big league level. He doesn’t need to be a front-end starter – he can be the No. 4 or No. 5 guy in the rotation and develop his experience and confidence at the highest level.

The Rockies simply need to find out how he will perform at the majors. With the season teetering between relevance and playing for 2017, the Rockies can get around 10 starts from Hoffman by promoting him now which is a good test for him at this stage of his career and keeping an eye on 2017.

Last night’s performance showed he is very close to being ready for the jump. The time is now for Hoffman. Let’s see what he can produce to finish the 2016 season. It’ll be worth the look.

Next: Colorado Rockies Wins Game 2 in Baltimore

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