Sure, it’s easy to shrug your shoulders and say it’s “just spring training.” Absolutely, you wouldn’t be scolded at all if you said the numbers don’t matter. However, for certain members of the Colorado Rockies, how they test this spring could well determine their roster or role fate in late March and beyond.
We have detailed how there are four interesting members of the Colorado Rockies who are out of minor league options this spring. One of those is Jeff Hoffman, who draws the start on Sunday in what will now be Colorado’s Cactus League opener after Saturday’s game against Arizona was washed out.
It says something that Rockies manager Bud Black pushed Hoffman’s start (originally scheduled for Saturday) off to Sunday rather than just skipping his turn and letting him throw in the shadows. Colorado needs to see all it can from Hoffman in game action this spring to determine if the former first-rounder is still a fit with the club and, if so, whether that is in the rotation or coming out of the bullpen.
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A new delivery brings promise of a new Hoffman in 2020. That’s what Rockies fans (and coaches and personnel) are hoping to see after a disappointing 2019 where he gave up an astounding 21 home runs in just 70 innings pitched. That’s what Rockies fans are hoping to see after four years that have produced a cumulative 6.11 ERA, 83 ERA+ and 10.1 hits (including 1.8 homers) allowed per nine innings.
When Hoffman has been good for the Rockies, he’s been very good (.217 opponent batting average and 38 hits allowed in 49 innings pitched) in eight career wins. When he’s taken the loss, it hasn’t been pretty (15 career losses with opponents hitting .355 with 103 hits in 65.2 innings pitched). Consistency has to be found in 2020, and it has to be quality consistency with the Rockies hoping Hoffman can compete for the fourth or fifth starter spot.
Hoffman has to show that he can be counted upon in a season where Triple-A is not an option. The proving ground begins on Sunday and, despite it being the first game of spring, plenty of eyes will be watching how the 27-year-old right-hander performs in his short stint on the mound.