Cincinnati Reds in Review: RP J.J. Hoover


Back on March 21, this site posed a question: who should be the Cincinnati Reds primary closer in Aroldis Chapman’s absence? It was a valid thought with the bullpen presumably being one of the team’s stronger points. Nearly half of the voters selected J.J. Hoover, who won by an over-whelming margin. It’s difficult to believe fans still feel the same way.

J.J. Hoover – Relief Pitcher

Add Hoover to the list of Reds players who has been married recently. The southern boy who tweets about hunting and the Bible could use an off-season to regroup after what he went through in 2014.

In 2013, Hoover earned himself the right to appear late in games. After being lambasted at home on June 9, 2013 against the St. Louis Cardinals, it would be over two months until he gave up his next run on August 20, 2013. Over that stretch of time, he would appear in 23 games and toss 28.1 scoreless innings. At the end of the season, his ERA finished under three over 66 innings, in which he averaged more than a strikeout per frame.

While in 2014, his strikeouts per inning would increase; nearly everything else took a step back for Hoover. After picking up the win in the Reds’ first victory of the season, Hoover managed to rattle off ten consecutive losses before season’s end. His ERA would soar over two runs from the previous year, settling just before five. Everything that went right in 2013 went wrong in 2014.

Hoover’s Stat Line:

1-10, 4.88 ERA, 62.2 IP, 75 K, 13 HR allowed, 1.39 WHIP, .236 OAV, -0.9 WAR

Top J.J. Hoover Moment:

While watching Hoover blow a fastball past a batter is one of a Reds fans favorite activities during the season, when he has his curveball bending and diving, it can be a real treat. He had both pitches looking sharp in the first game he would appear in on April 2 at home against the Cardinals.

Pitching a scoreless top of the ninth inning with two strikeouts, Hoover left himself in line for the victory when Chris Heisey delivered a walk-off base hit in the bottom of the frame.

To show just how quirky baseball can be, in his first appearance of the season, Hoover would pick up the win—the only one he would get all year.

Low-Point of the Season for J.J. Hoover:

I was sitting in the left field stands on April 5 when the roar of the Citi Field crowd overtook my eardrums and I dropped my head as Ike Davis rounded the bases during a walk-off Grand Slam. Attempting to shut the door on a three-run Reds lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, Hoover hung a curveball that was deposited into the arena known as the “Pepsi Porch,” which is the upper deck of deep right field. At the time, we all should have recognized it as an omen.

Then, there was the time I was sitting in front of my television as Drew Stubbs slammed a ball to deep left field that just wouldn’t come down. This one wasn’t a walk-off Grand Slam, but a walk-off three-run home run on the first leg of a doubleheader. Again, Hoover slowly sauntered off the mound.

In a season where his ERA was perpetually over five, Hoover battled through nearly an impossibly difficult year. How could a pitcher that was so effective in 2013, be so ineffective in 2014?

Final Grade: D

There were points during the season when Bryan Price truly had nowhere else to turn. Hoover had been there before and proven he could get the job done, so consistently running him out to the mound meant that he might figure it out eventually. That never happened.

This next season is a vital one for Hoover. He will have nothing guaranteed as far as a spot in the bullpen is concerned. Even after a brilliant 2013, 2014 virtually wiped his slate clean. Reds fans can only hope he can recover just a bit of that magic heading into 2015.