Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
The beginning of the 2013 season wasn’t kind to Reds reliever J.J. Hoover, and I mean the very beginning. On Opening Day, Hoover pitched two innings and was tagged with the loss after allowing a two-run single to Chris Ianetta in the top of the 13th. Five days later against the Washington Nationals, fate would once again laugh on him as he served up a pair of home runs to Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos in a 7-6 loss to the Nats.
A mere six days later, Hoover once again was saddled with a loss. This time the Pittsburgh Pirates reached him for a run in the bottom of the 7th after the Reds had clawed their way back into the game. Here we were only 10 games into the season and Hoover had taken three losses. He was 0-3 with an ERA of 7.94 and WHIP of 2.116. Opponents were hitting .320 against him.
Then J.J. went on a ten-game run where he was magnificent. In those ten outings, he pitched 10 innings and didn’t allow an earned run. He also gathered two of his three saves in that time. The remainder of May would see Hoover allow runs in three of his last 8 outings, post a 4.70 ERA despite having a BAA of .207.
Maybe the lowest of lows this season came on June 9. In the 10th inning against the St. Louis Cardinals, Hoover was blasted for six run in only 0.2 innings. Three of those runs came when Matt Holliday hit a grand slam off Curtis Partch who was making his MLB debut.
Look at Hoover’s monthly splits for the season’s first three months, and there aren’t exactly the type of numbers you would want on the back of your card.
The BAA isn’t bad at all. Maybe a little high for June, but the majority of the negatives from June stem from that June 9 game.
But something has changed since that outing. Pitch selection? A little.
taken from Brooks Baseball
Mechanics? Haven’t heard a whole lot about that.
Confidence? Only Hoover would know that for sure.
Whatever it has actually been, it is something exceptionally positive. Hoover has been nothing short of phenomenal since that fateful June 9 game. Including his last seven efforts in June until last night’s win, Hoover has steadied a ship unlike no other.
In 21 games (24.2 IP) since June 9, J.J. is 3-0 with 5 holds. He has only allowed 11 hits and issued 7 walks (0.730 WHIP) while striking out 29 of 89 batters (10.6 SO/9). And no runs, earned or unearned. The issue of free passes has been largely curtailed (2.6 BB/9) equating to a SO/BB of 4.14. Hoover has lowered his ERA from 5.40 on that date of June 9 to 2.81 as it sits today.
These are extremely strong numbers.
The only negative during this stretch is permitting 2 of 6 inherited runners to score. Yes, the only negative.
Hoover has grown tremendously over the past couple of months and I’m not referring to only his beard. He has been a key cog in the “rebirth” of the Reds bullpen as compared to its early season follies.
If J.J. stays the course, this Reds bullpen will certainly be formidable for the remainder of the season and throughout the playoffs.