Rockies Have Decision to Make: Has Hoffman's Time Finally Come?

© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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The Rockies need a fifth starter.

Jeff Hoffman has suddenly made a strong case for himself to get another opportunity.

Hours after the Rockies announced on Saturday that struggling Tyler Anderson was being optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque, Hoffman took the mound for the Isotopes in Tacom, and put together his second dominating start in a row.

Is the right-hander who was the key player in the July 2015 trade of Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto finally ready to live up to the expectations that came with the Blue Jays making him the ninth player taken overall in the 2014 draft?

His last two starts for the Isotopes have been as good as anybody could want. After making an emergency start for the Rockies on April 23 -- giving up four runs on six hits in five innings of a loss to the Nationals -- Hoffman returned to the Isotopes with a different mindset.

He wanted to prove the hype surrounding him when he came out of East Carolina University had merit.

First, he brushed aside the hitter-friendly environment at Albuquerque, and allowed Sacramento just one run on three hits and a walk, striking out seven in seven innings last Monday, and for an encore Saturday night in Tacoma, he allowed one run on two hits and two walks, striking out 10.

His next start most likely will come later this week at Coors Field.

Has he taken that step to give the Rockies reason to look forward to what he can become rather than another reminder of his past opportunities gone bad?

His normal turn would be Thursday in the series finale against the Giants, but given the fact the Rockies are off on Monday, Hoffman could be held back to start either Friday or Saturday against the Padres in an effort to keep the four other Rockies on regular rest.

The schedule in the next two weeks does give the Rockies flexiblity with their rotation.

It is not out of the question the Rockies, after the game later this week, won't need a fifth starter again until they return from a 12-day, eight-game road trip for a three-game series against the Orioles at Coors Field May 24-26 for a 10-game homestand that also includes four games against the D-Backs May 27-30, and a three-game set with the Blue Jays May 31-June 2.

They could also decide to stay with a five-man rotation, providing an extra day or two for the four primary starters to regroup.

The one thing that would seem certain is that Hoffman is as primed as he can be to finally make good on a big-league oppporutnity.

What he has to avoid is that nightmare inning, like the third inning in his start against the Nationals. After the Rockies took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second, Hoffman gave up four runs in the top of the third, in an inning that was an outlier from the other four he worked in that game.

He threw 31 pitches in that third inning -- 55 combined in four other innings. He threw 12 pitches in the first and fourth innings, 13 in the second, and 18 in his final inning of work, the fifth.

And it all started with a leadoff single by pitcher Patrick Corbin.