Colorado Rockies: Jeff Hoffman on his first start and what’s next
SALT LAKE CITY – Jeff Hoffman understands his role for now within the framework of the Colorado Rockies rotation. He also knows what is expected of him when he is not a part of the Major League active roster and working on his craft in Triple-A Albuquerque.
It’s no secret that Jeff Hoffman understands there is still work to be done to improve who he is on the mound. At the age of 26, the right-hander still believes that he is on the right track and that his first start of the 2019 season for the Colorado Rockies was proof of that.
“I’m here to work on things still,” Hoffman told me near the Albuquerque Isotopes clubhouse underneath Smith’s Ballpark. “I loved my strike throwing while I was up there so I am going to continue to do that and maybe tweak a few things to even make it better.”
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Colorado manager Bud Black said that he saw improvement from Hoffman in his April 23 start against the Washington Nationals when he threw five innings and allowed six hits and four earned runs. All of those runs came in a third inning where the Nationals strung together four consecutive hits to open the frame.
After a mound visit from Black, Hoffman settled in and retired the next three batters to end the inning.
“Usually when Buddy speaks, it’s constructive,” Hoffman said of that mound visit. “He told me some confidence-type stuff. I believe in you. We all believe in you. I was in the middle of an inning and that’s kind of been my downfall, the big inning.”
Black reflected back upon Hoffman’s start and saw some things from him he hasn’t even seen from the former first-round draft pick during his Triple-A starts.
"“We saw some growth in Jeff in a couple of different areas,” Black said. “I was really encouraged when the season started that we were going to see some of that carry over from the spring into the early-season outings in Albuquerque. That didn’t occur but it occurred last night.“(April 23) was a learning experience for Jeff, like every outing is for every player. His challenge now is to go back to the minors and put together some outings.”"
In his four-year Major League career, Hoffman has compiled a 6-10 mark and 5.92 ERA. He has bounced between relief work (14 appearances) and starts (24 appearances) but believes he is on the right track to impact Colorado’s rotation.
However, Hoffman knows his numbers in his three Triple-A starts so far have been less than ideal. He entered Sunday’s action with a 13.89 ERA covering 11.2 innings where he has surrendered 20 hits. On the surface, it isn’t pretty … but Hoffman says there’s more to it than just the raw numbers.
“Coming down here and pitching like I did up there is very important to them,” Hoffman explained. “I’m not going to say I haven’t tried when I’ve been down here. I know the numbers aren’t reflecting how I threw the other night but it’s one of those things that I expect so much out of myself, especially when I’m down here. What they’ve told me is that it doesn’t have to be an ‘especially’ case. Expect the same amount out of yourself, regardless of where you’re at and therefore don’t try to do too many things that might make me miss my location or whatever it might be.”
I asked Hoffman what he read into Black’s line about putting together some outings and what that might mean for him and a potential return to the Rockies.
“I think I should be going out and keeping my team in the ball game,” Hoffman said. “Whatever they expect of me up there is what I expect of myself down here.”