By Jack Etkin
More than ever, the Rockies need Jeff Hoffman. This time, he’s not going to make another pit stop in their rotation before going right back to Triple-A. No, the Rockies need a fifth starter and are going to turn to Hoffman. They have thrown him a lifeline. Can they actually count on the right-hander? That remains to be seen, but this is an ideal opportunity for Hoffman to show he is a big league pitcher.
Maybe this will all work out, and Hoffman, 26, finally finds a foothold in the majors. And the Rockies, in turn, finally cash in on the July 2015 trade where Hoffman was the centerpiece acquisition from Toronto in the deal that that sent Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays.
Hoffman last pitched for Albuquerque on Friday. He was scheduled to start Wednesday but was scratched from that outing, and will start tonight for the Rockies against Baltimore on six days of rest. The Rockies could have opted to start Kyle Freeland in the series opener against Baltimore and have Hoffman pitch Saturday. But this way, Hoffman will not have an entire week of rest, and Freeland, who is 2-5 with a 6.02 ERA, gets additional time between starts to try to make necessary corrections.
Because of four off days this month, the Rockies were able to get by with four starters after they optioned left-hander Tyler Anderson to Albququerque. He never threw a pitch there. Instead, Anderson decided to get his left knee examined and will undergo surgery on the knee to correct a chondral defect in his cartilage. That surgery will determine when or if Anderson will return this season. Regardless, it won't be soon. So the Rockies placed him on the 60-day injured list Wednesday.
They no longer have the luxury frequent off days that allowed them to use four starters for most of this month. Indeed, the Rockies have four scheduled off days _ June 3, June 17, July 1 and July 4 _ before play ends July 7 for the All-Star break. They will begin a 10-day, 10-game homestand Friday against Baltimorethat will result in playing 13 games in 13 days before that day off June 3. Then the Rockies again play 13 games in 13 days before a day off June 17 and, finally, they'll then grind through another stretch of 13 games in 13 days before getting those two days off in July and playing four games in the week leading to the All-Star break.
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