Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jeff Hoffman faced his fair share of adversity during his first stint with the club last season. However, Thursday night at Coors Field against the Los Angeles Dodgers was a different story.
Hoffman, 24, was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015. In six starts last season for the Rockies, eight appearances, Hoffman went 0-4 with a 4.88 ERA.
Hoffman was called up from Triple-A Albuquerque for a spot start due to the mess in the rotation caused by a rained out Monday night against the defending champion Chicago Cubs and a subsequent doubleheader. Let’s just say whatever Hoffman has been working on in Triple-A was on full display in Colorado’s 10-7 win.
The hard-throwing right-hander was brilliant, including his first inning of work. Hoffman—with a one-out walk to Corey Seager mixed in—struck out the side to begin the ball game.
Hoffman lasted five-and-one-third innings, giving up three runs on six hits while walking two and striking out eight. With that being said, Hoffman collected his first Major League victory despite the late comeback attempt from the Dodgers.
“It’s a relief to finally get my first win. But it’s just one.” Hoffman said. “We gotta win as many games as we need too. One more than the Dodgers or one more than the Giants or whoever is going to be in second place in the West.”
With his performance, Hoffman added on to another solid pitching exhibition from Colorado’s starting rotation.
Featured with young talent such as German Marquez, 22, Antonio Senzatela, 22, and Kyle Freeland, 23, Colorado has been in good hands this season. Those three combined are currently 9-5 with an ERA of 3.37 and paired with Hoffman, the Rockies started four rookies on consecutive days for the first time since 2002.
You’ve got to wonder if these young guys feed off of each other.
“Yeah absolutely. Seeing the success that they have.” Hoffman said. “We’ve played together in Triple-A. Not Senzatela because he’s a prodigy, he skipped that level. We’ve been around each other and we’ve seen each other throw for awhile. When you see them have success and kind of see how they’re executing their game plan, it kind of gives you a nice little piece of mind.”
In comparison, the 27-year-olds Tyler Anderson and Tyler Chatwood have combined for a record of 5-7 with an ERA of 5.63.
Talk about a youth wave.
What’s even more impressive is the team is without ace Jon Gray who is currently sidelined with a broken navicular bone in his left foot. Gray left in the fourth inning of Colorado’s contest with the San Francisco Giants on April 13.
Colorado is being tested early on with the absences of Gray and Chad Bettis in the starting rotation and so far, so good. But, someone is going to have to be the odd man out sooner or later.
“I haven’t really thought about any of that. Obviously, we have five great arms up here right now and Bettis on the way back.” Hoffman said. “It’s not my decision to make, I just have to go out when my number is called and execute a game plan like I did tonight.”
“I thought overall, Jeff pitched well,” said Bud Black. “I thought the fastball had life, and he threw it for strikes. The curveball came into play.”
The Rockies will not move to a six-man rotation so either someone is moving to the bullpen or getting demoted to Triple-A.