The MLB lockout and abbreviated spring training has taken a toll on a specific group of players; namely pitchers. More specifically, starting pitchers. The Cincinnati Reds will be without Luis Castillo and Mike Minor to begin the 2022 season.
And it's not just the Reds. Former Cincinnati pitcher Sonny Gray has yet to pitch in a Grapefruit League game for his new team, though the Minnesota Twins right-hander did take the hill in a minor league game just the other day.
Starting pitchers throughout Major League Baseball are behind, and that's bound to put more pressure on another group of players during the early-going. Which Cincinnati Reds relievers will be tested early and often in 2022?
1. Reds RHP Jeff Hoffman will be tested early and often.
Last year was Jeff Hoffman's first with the Cincinnati Reds and it came with mixed results. The Reds rotation was banged up to begin the 2021 season, so Hoffman was thrust into action as a starter. The early results were okay, but after his second start, it became apparent that the former Colorado Rockies hurler needed to transition to the bullpen.
As a starter, Hoffman appeared in 11 games and posted a 5.20 ERA, allowing 26 runs over 45 innings and striking out 29 batters. However, after returning from the IL, David Bell made the decision to move Hoffman to the bullpen where the right-hander excelled in 20 relief appearances.
Over 28 innings of work, Hoffman struck out 40 batters and posted a 3.54 ERA. Hoffman's K/9 jumped from 7.8 as a starter to 12.9 as a reliever. While the 29-year-old still struggled with the long ball, Hoffman looked much more settled coming out of the Reds bullpen.
Jeff Hoffman will be part of the Cincinnati Reds 2022 Opening Day roster, and could be a very solid option as a long reliever out of the bullpen. If one of the starters gets into trouble early, look for Hoffman to come on in relief. Nine of Hoffman's 28 relief appearances in 2021 exceeded one inning.