Colorado Rockies: Jeff Hoffman’s talent and upcoming rotation decisions
The way that Jeff Hoffman is pitching right now, the 24-year-old right-hander is forcing the Colorado Rockies to make a decision very soon about their rotation.
Hoffman looked solid through his seven innings in San Diego on Sunday afternoon, holding the Padres to just three hits and striking out a career-high nine Padres to pace the Rockies to a 3-1 decision.
Called up from Triple-A to fill a spot in the rotation yet again, Hoffman once again came through in a big way. In his three starts this season, he is 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA with 24 strikeouts and just two walks.
Hoffman’s only hiccup on Sunday came in the fifth when he gave up a massive homer to Hunter Renfroe to open the inning. Franchy Cordero followed with a single and it looked as if the Padres might have discovered a chink in Hoffman’s armor. However, after a visit to the mound by Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster, Hoffman struck out two of the next three batters he faced, putting an exclamation mark on the inning and preventing the Padres from gaining any kind of momentum.
He retired the next nine batters he faced after Cordero’s single. Hoffman was efficient and focused, looking every bit like the player the Rockies coveted in the trade that sent Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto in 2015.
With his outing on Sunday, Hoffman has built on a season that has seen him take major strides in his confidence and skills. Consider this for a moment. Last September, Hoffman gave up seven runs in 2.2 innings in a 14-1 loss at San Diego. That pitcher is not at all the same Hoffman who took the mound at Petco Park on Sunday. Any San Diego road demons from last season were exorcized quickly.
What has made the difference? Last season, Hoffman threw just 61.5 percent of his pitches for strikes and had 17 walks in 31.1 innings. This season, heading into Sunday, Hoffman had walked just two in 13.2 innings and had thrown a strike 66 percent of the time.
Against the Padres on Sunday, Hoffman continued to use his curve and fastball effectively, mixing up his pitches all over the zone.
Hoffman was called up from Triple-A to start on Sunday when fellow starter Tyler Anderson was placed on the 10-day disabled list. For now, Colorado’s rotation is Hoffman, Tyler Chatwood, German Marquez, Antonio Senzatela and Kyle Freeland. However, with Anderson able to return from the disabled list mid-month and Jon Gray making his way back from a foot injury, Bud Black and the Rockies will have to figure out how to squeeze seven pitchers into a five-man rotation.
Let’s look at a best-guess scenario on what will happen over the next couple of weeks in the Rockies rotation.