Eye on the Rockies: Hoffman Provides Second Ray of Hope That He's Turning Corner

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Okay, it's not a Bob Gibson-like performance, but it has been a sign of steps forward for Jeff Hoffman. In his fifth stint with the Rockies this season, Hoffman, a key part of the trade of Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto, is showing signs of finally moving forward in his bid for a full-time spot in the Rockies rotation.

On Saturday, he suffered the loss in San Diego's 3-0 win over the Rockies, and he did give up three runs in 5 1/3 innings, but they came on two opposite-field home runs -- by Wil Myers in the fifth and Manny Machado in the sixth. But there was a better overall scenario. He has made two September starts -- two runs in five innings of a 6-2 loss to the Pirates at Coors Field last Sunday. And in those tow starts -- five runs in 10 1.3 innings -- he has lowered his 2019 big-league ERA from and even in a three-run, 5 1/3 inning effort he lowered his ERA from 7.81 to 7.06.

“He did a nice job,” manager Bud Black said. “The breaking ball came into play. The fastball had some life to it. He was pitching 91-94 [mph] -- that’s a nice range for Jeff, if he locates the ball. And it seemed to be located tonight. It was a good effort; it really was. I thought he pitched with a nice pace, a nice tempo. There was some aggressiveness to it. He did his job. He kept us in the game, for sure.”

At the Plate

Hoffman and the bullpen did give the Rockies a chance in San Diego, but the offense stumbled. Not only were the Rockies shutout for the seventh time this year, they were held to three hits, the sixth time this year they have had three or fewer hits. And yes, both the shutouts and low-hit games came on the road.

On the Mound

Padres starter Joey Lucchesi continued to shut down the Rockies bats. He is far from overpowering, but he is 2-1 in seven career starts against the Rockies, the bullpen having blown saves in four of his no decisions. The Rockies have hit only .199 against him.

"he’s a little different style," said Rockies manager Bud Black. "It’s not great velocity, but there’s deception and he’s got the change and curve that are a little bit funky, little bit deceptive. It really screws up hitters’ timing. It was one of those games where we didn’t really swing the bats great.”

FYI

Rico Garcia, who was called up to make one start last month, is back in the big leagues. The right-hander, however, is going to be used in relief. That gives the Rockies 14 relievers in the bullpen this month (with the possibility of 15 for a day or two if Kyle Freeland does come off the disabled list and make one more start before the season ends).

Manager Bud Black isn't concerned. He feels the big-league exposure will be a benefit, even if the time on the mound is limited.

“They get to watch a big league game, to watch the speed of the game,” Black said. “They see the talent difference between a Minor League game and a big league game. In this case, you’re seeing [Manny] Machado, [Eric] Hosmer. You’re seeing big league catchers, big league arms. When we play the Dodgers, you’re seeing their players.

“You’re in a bigger ballpark. You’re seeing third decks, fourth decks. The travel, the hotels. You check off all these boxes and gain experience. Then, when you’re back the second time, not everything is new. You’re not in awe of things the second time around.”

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