Reds: Walks haunted Jeff Hoffman’s 2021 season in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI, OHIO - AUGUST 18: Jeff Hoffman #23 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - AUGUST 18: Jeff Hoffman #23 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

The bar was set relatively low for Jeff Hoffman, but the Cincinnati Reds reliever performed admirably amid some difficult circumstances. Hoffman was yo-yo’d between a starting pitcher and reliever during the 2021 season, and may be able to stick on the offseason roster. Let’s put a grade on Hoffman’s 2021 performance.

The Reds acquired Hoffman as a part of deal that sent both Robert Stephenson and Jameson Hannah to the Colorado Rockies. Cincinnati also acquired Case Williams as part of the transaction, but the right-hander returned to the Mile High City in a separate trade the Redlegs made prior to the July 30th deadline.

The hope with Hoffman was that a chance of scenery would help put the right-hander back on track. A former first-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, Hoffman never lived up to the hype of being the No. 9 overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft.

Jeff Hoffman seemed to carve out a nice role with the Reds in 2021.

Jeff Hoffman appeared in 31 games last season with 11 starts. Entering spring training last February, it was assumed that Hoffman would be fighting for a spot in the Cincinnati bullpen, but injuries to Michael Lorenzen and Sonny Gray forced David Bell’s hand, and the Reds’ skipper inserted Hoffman into the starting lineup.

Hoffman’s first four performances out of the gate made people realize why the 28-year-old was a former first-round pick. Hoffman went 20.1 innings, striking out 16 batters and allowing just six earned runs. Hoffman’s 2.66 ERA through the first four games had Reds Country thinking they’d captured lightning in a bottle. But oh how the tables turned after a visit to LA.

Hoffman went up against the juggernaut that was the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup, and while he allowed just one hit in four innings, the right-hander allowed three earned runs and five men reached via base on balls. The former Rockies hurler was yanked after four innings and never returned to form, or maybe, that was who Jeff Hoffman was all along.

Hoffman went on to start five more games for the Redlegs before landing on the injured list. During that five-game stretch, Hoffman allowed 12 earned runs over 16.2 innings and surrendered 15 free passes while punching out 20.

When Hoffman returned after the All-Star break, he received one more start and was shellacked by the New York Mets for five runs in four innings. Hoffman was then relegated to a relief role, making 20 appearances out of the bullpen.

As a reliever, Jeff Hoffman posted some respectable numbers. Hoffman struck out 40 batters over 28 innings of work and posted a respectable 3.84 ERA. Hoffman, however, still had problems locating the strike zone. He walked 15, which translated into 4.82 BB/9 and a 12.1% walk-rate.

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Cincinnati Reds fans know all too well that walks will haunt, and that certainly held true for Jeff Hoffman last season. I would expect Cincinnati to retain Hoffman’s services, but if he can’t find the plate during next year’s spring training, it’s hard to see him breaking camp with the Reds. Hoffman receives a solid C for his performance in 2021.