Start versus Indians will be key for Jeff Hoffman to stay in Reds’ rotation

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - APRIL 10: Jeff Hoffman #23 of the Cincinnati Reds delivers a first inning pitch. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - APRIL 10: Jeff Hoffman #23 of the Cincinnati Reds delivers a first inning pitch. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Jeff Hoffman draws the start for the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night versus the Cleveland Indians. The right-hander will need a solid outing in order to maintain his standing as a starter on the Reds. With Michael Lorenzen heading to the 60-day injured list, the chances for Tejay Antone to enter the starting rotation have gone up dramatically.

Hoffman was a contender for the Reds’ starting rotation when the team descended upon Goodyear, Arizona back in February. The competition for the final spot in the rotation was said to be between Lorenzen, Hoffman, José De León, and Tejay Antone. So far, Lorenzen’s on the IL, De León has been moved to the bullpen, and Antone hasn’t allowed a run through three games.

Jeff Hoffman faces a lot of pressure if he wants to stay in the Reds’ rotation.

It’s not as though Jeff Hoffman is a stranger to being a starting pitcher. In five years with the Colorado Rockies, Hoffman started 38 of the 68 games in which he pitched. In two starts with Cincinnati this season, Hoffman is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA and eight strikeouts. David Bell will need to see more of the same from Hoffman on Friday versus the Indians.

Tejay Antone is making his case to become one of the five starting pitchers for the Reds this season. Antone has appeared out of the bullpen three times this season, and each outing has seen an uptick in the right-hander’s pitch count. It seems as though Bell is ramping Antone up for a bigger role in the coming weeks.

While the season is still young, Hoffman has shown improvement during the early-going. According to FanGraphs, the 28-year-old has seen a decrease in his walk-rate, BB/9, and HR/9. At the same time, opposing batters are not teeing off on Hoffman as they have in previous seasons. The right-hander has seen a decrease in hard-hit percentage and an increase in soft contact.

These are numbers that bode well for Hoffman moving forward, but ones that he must maintain in order to keep his spot in the rotation. Tejay Antone is charging hard and Michael Lorenzen is going to want to lay claim to a starting spot upon his return from injury.

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Jeff Hoffman has never faced the Cleveland Indians in his career, so Friday night will be an important start for the former first-round pick. In his first start at Great American Ball Park, Hoffman went five innings, allowed just one run on three hits, and struck out six. A similar performance on Friday will help keep Hoffman in David Bell’s good graces.