Colorado Rockies Make Right Decision with Jeff Hoffman
By Kevin Henry
Earlier tonight, Trevor Irvine wrote an article about the decision by the Colorado Rockies to move Jeff Hoffman to the bullpen. He believes it’s a mistake. I’ll take the other side of the coin and say it’s exactly what Hoffman needs to prepare him for 2017.
Of course, we know that Hoffman has struggled somewhat in his five starts this season. His 0-4 record and 6.04 ERA are proof of that. He’s also just struck out 13 batters in 22.1 innings of work. Certainly those are numbers that need to improve. However, I believe the bullpen may be just the thing Hoffman needs heading into the offseason.
One split to look at with Hoffman is what happens when he is ahead or behind in the count. When he’s ahead in the count, his ERA is 2.57. When he falls behind, it skyrockets to 7.11.
The problem is that Hoffman hasn’t been ahead enough to make the ERA what it needs to be. There’s a difference between pitching to Triple-A hitters and pitching to those making a living in Major League Baseball. Considering Hoffman didn’t even have a full season in Triple-A, he needs to gain all of the experience he can facing Major League-caliber hitters … and gain confidence from those outings. Right now, that’s not happening in his starts.
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As this article detailed at the start of the season, there were some pitches that the 23-year-old Hoffman needed to work on. He still needs to work on those. Having a chance to come out of the bullpen with a single focus of getting a certain number of batters out will give him that chance.
Let him get a few batters out before you turn the whole lineup over to him.
Let’s also not forget what a difference the bullpen made for Jorge De La Rosa earlier in the season when he was struggling. A change of scenery isn’t always such a bad thing and can pay dividends for the Rockies.
Hey, even Hoffman seems in favor of it.
“I and everybody else who is in the decision-making process are on the same page,” Hoffman told MLB.com. “I want to compete. I want to earn my stripes. I’m glad they’re giving me that opportunity.
“My stuff makes me effective. The only thing I’m focused on is executing pitches, because that’s what’s gotten me into trouble through my first few outings. Regardless whether it’s in the bullpen or a starting role, you’ve got to execute pitches to get outs.”
There is absolutely a lot riding on Hoffman and how he performs in 2017. Coming out of the bullpen and gaining confidence this season (which saving a few innings off his arm as well) gives him a chance to be the starter all Rockies fans want to see in 2017.
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Taking a chance during a lost season in 2016 could pay dividends for the Rockies in a big way in 2017. Isn’t that worth it when you’re talking about a potential run at the playoffs? Isn’t that worth it when you’re talking about one of the arms you’re depending on to get you there? I say yes, yes it is.