Last night was the first rehab appearance for Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jeff Hoffman. The Reds sent him to Triple-A Louisville to pitch for the Bats as he recovers from a shoulder injury that he suffered in a start against the Washington Nationals. Hoffman walked five batters in 1.1 innings during that game before exiting the game and then being placed on the injured list nearly a month ago.
The second batter of the game doubled off of Jeff Hoffman, lining the ball down the left field line. After getting ahead 0-2 on Kevin Kramer, Hoffman would walk him on seven pitches to get himself into a bit of a jam. The righty buckled down from there and struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning unscathed.
The second inning went better. Hoffman retired the first hitter of the inning on two pitches as he induced a lazy fly ball to center. He then struck out Hunter Owen for the second out before getting former Reds prospect Joe Hudson to pop out to the catcher. That was all that Hoffman would throw on the night, finishing with 35 pitches and 22 strikes on the night.
The plan for Jeff Hoffman is to rehab as a starting pitcher in Louisville. Manager David Bell noted on Monday afternoon that he would likely make multiple starts with the Bats with each one being scheduled to go deeper than the previous one as he builds up his innings and workload.
That makes sense because you would rather have him capable of stepping into the rotation if you need him to. Injuries are happening this season at a much higher rate than normal and while the Reds do not need Jeff Hoffman to step into the rotation right now, particularly if Sonny Gray returns after his rehab start that is set for Thursday in Louisville. But things can change in two weeks or three weeks, too, and having Hoffman built up as a starter who could step into the rotation if needed makes more sense than not having him ready or capable of doing that.
The bullpen clearly needs help, and Hoffman could provide some help there. Overall this season he’s posted a 4.61 ERA, which when adjusted for the ballparks he’s pitched in is exactly league average (he’s posted a 100 ERA+ this year). But he hasn’t been any kind of consistent. Where he has found plenty of success if getting hitters out the first time he’s faced them on the day. He’s help hitters to a .211/.333/.329 line the first time through the lineup this year. But the second time he’s faced hitters they have won the battle, hitting .279/.416/.508. That could bode quite well in a relief role where it would be incredibly rare for Hoffman to face a hitter for a second time in an outing.