Cincinnati Reds: Jeff Hoffman’s quest for the rotation begins tonight

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 08: Reliever Jeff Hoffman #34 of the Colorado Rockies walks off the field. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 08: Reliever Jeff Hoffman #34 of the Colorado Rockies walks off the field. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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Jeff Hoffman gets the start tonight for the Cincinnati Reds as the team enters it’s fourth Cactus League contest. Hoffman, who was acquired in the deal the sent Robert Stephenson and Jameson Hannah to the Colorado Rockies, is thought to be competition with Michael Lorenzen, José De León, and others for the final spot in the Reds starting rotation.

Hoffman, like Stephenson, needed a change of scenery, and the right-hander will get that with new pitching coach Derek Johnson. Johnson is well-regarded as one of the best pitching gurus in the sport.

Jeff Hoffman has an outside chance to make the Reds rotation.

I think Michael Lorenzen has to fail miserably during spring training in order to open the door for another pitcher to take his spot in the starting rotation. Lorenzen has put in the time this winter and having him pitch every fifth day give Reds manager David Bell so many other ways to use the athletically-gifted hurler on days he’s not pitching.

However, Jeff Hoffman cannot think that’s he’s out of the mix to be in the rotation, because the Cincinnati Reds are one injury away from needing someone to step up and take the ball every fifth day. We saw that scenario play out with Tyler Mahle last season.

Hoffman has experience starting. The former first-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays has 38 starts over his big league career. The 28-year-old would like to forget the majority of those outings, as his record is a paltry 8-15 with a 5.80 ERA.

However, Hoffman has been even worse as a reliever with the former Rockies hurler going 2-1 with a 9.30 ERA over 30 relief appearances out of the Colorado bullpen. While Hoffman’s 1.529 WHIP as a starter is not overly impressive, his 2.067 WHIP as a relief pitcher is even worse.

Jeff Hoffman is likely ticketed to be the Reds long reliever.

Every pitching staff in Major League Baseball needs a reliable arm out of the bullpen who can go two or more innings and help keep the team in the game. Two years ago, that duty fell to Matt Bowman, who saw the good majority of his opportunities during low-leverage situations. The game was likely out of reach, or the Reds had a commanding lead.

That’s the role that I envision for Jeff Hoffman heading into the 2021 season. Hoffman can serve as long reliever who can come in during the third inning of a blow out loss or the eighth inning with a six-run cushion. I highly doubt we’ll see Hoffman enter with the game on the line. That duty will be reserved for Amir Garrett, Lucas Sims, or Sean Doolittle.

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That doesn’t mean that Hoffman can’t add value to this Cincinnati Reds team, and there’s a chance that he could blossom into an important cog in the team’s bullpen. He’ll get his chance this evening against the Los Angeles Dodgers to prove that he belongs in the rotation. A solid outing might give the Reds coaches something to think about.