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.

37 Responses

  1. ClevelandRedsFan

    I don’t understand rehabbing him as a starter. If he is going to make multiple starts with 5 days between, his rehab assignment will be about 20 days before he can pitch for the Reds.

    The bullpen could easily squander away the season in 20 days. Why not rehab him as a reliever every 2 days, and he could be back up in a week?

    • Doug Gray

      Because they may need him as a starter. And we don’t have an exact timeline for him on rehab, either. Maybe the next time out he throws 50 pitches, then the next time it’s 75 and then he’s activated in the bullpen. That’s about 12 days when he’d be able to pitch out of the Reds bullpen instead of say, 7 if you tried the bullpen approach and got him 3 relief appearances. A difference of 5 days. Certainly those 5 days could matter at the end of the season.

      Another possibility is that there’s something very specific the team wants him to work on and throwing 35/50/75 pitches allows him to get that work in a lot more than 3 15-pitch outings.

      • Jim Walker

        And let’s not overlook that part of that mess in Minnesota Monday was that the Reds did not have a long man in the their pen while the Twins did. So, at the end, Hembree was out there for his third straight day running on fumes while the Twins were set for the long haul. Just think of how much worse it might have been if Osuch hadn’t been able to go 30 pitches (which yielded 2.1 innings). Stretching Hoffman to at least 3-4 innings to give them a long guy might be part of the plan.

    • J

      Here’s an explanation more consistent with what we’ve seen from this organization in the past: Hoffman was signed with the expectation that he’d be a starter, so he’s definitely going to start for this team until it’s absolutely clear to everyone, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that he would be more useful as a reliever. That hasn’t happened yet, so he’s a starter.

      • Doug Gray

        Jeff Hoffman was not signed at all. He was traded for. And he really wasn’t even going to make the rotation until everyone got hurt. Had everyone stayed healthy the rotation would have been Gray, Castillo, Mahle, Miley, and Lorenzen, with Antone as the 6th option. Hoffman wound up in the rotation because guys got hurt. The plan was to look at him as a starter and see what happened, and so they did that in the spring and he wasn’t going to get the job until there wasn’t another option.

      • J

        I don’t make a distinction between “traded for” and “signed,” but if that somehow matters to anyone, I stand corrected. However, there is no doubt they were hoping he’d start, and the bullpen was plan B. “Hoffman is mostly fastball-curveball-changeup right now,” Krall said. “If he reaches his full potential, you’ve got a guy who is a solid big league starter at the end of the day. If he can be a good bullpen guy, it’s a good weapon for us to have.”

        So, okay, they may not have been *dead set* on using him as a starter, but that was clearly what they were envisioning, and once they named him a starter, he was going to continue starting until it became absolutely positively clear that he couldn’t. This is how the organization works. They take *forever* to admit they’ve made a mistake. I’m not saying anything new or controversial here.

      • Doug Gray

        You’re just incorrect, that’s all. Jeff Hoffman only made this rotation because of injuries late in spring training. He was not going to make the rotation. All Krall said was true – but they gave it a look and decided that he was not going to be in the rotation…. until injuries piled up and they had to go to option #7, which was Hoffman.

      • J

        Another Krall quote from immediately after the trade:

        “For us, at this point, we’ve lost Trevor Bauer and trying to figure out how to fill that fifth starter spot…They were looking for someone they could slot right into their bullpen.”

        Starter was obviously Plan A and bullpen was Plan B. It didn’t require everyone getting hurt for them to seriously consider him as a starter.

      • J

        They decided he was going to make the rotation because they considered him, first and foremost, a *starting* pitcher. That’s why, for example, they didn’t turn to AG or Sims to be the fifth starter. The fact that they hoped to have *better* starters than Hoffman doesn’t change that fact. Unless Krall was lying, Hoffman was brought in specifically to *compete for a spot in the rotation.* What additional evidence is necessary to prove they considered him a starter who would go to the pen only if they had 5 better ones?

      • Doug Gray

        I mean you said it yourself: He was brought in to COMPETE for a spot. You know who didn’t come in to compete for one? Luis Castillo. Sonny Gray. Tyler Mahle. Guys that were locks. Jeff Hoffman came in to compete for a spot in the rotation. And all of the evidence we have says that he lost it. Once Wade Miley showed he was healthy, the Reds announced he was a starter. So that’s 1-4. Then Lorenzen was locked in until the injury. He was a starter and when they first thought he was going to miss like 2 weeks to begin the year they kept talking about how he was a starter. That’s 1-5. Antone was also being talked about a starter the last two weeks of spring training, and then when he got hurt the talk was “there’s not enough time to get him ready to begin the season as a starter”, meaning that he was the next guy in line. Hoffman backed his way in after losing the competition.

        That’s the evidence. I rest my case.

  2. Bred

    My eyes clouded by time say it is hard to believe he is a league average pitcher, but I guess league average is not a static score but the stats that determine league average float up or down year. To me he is a solid AAAA pitcher nothing wrong with that unless he is getting regular work for your favorite team.

  3. Tom Mitsoff

    Doug’s numbers regarding first time through the order vs. second time say it all. Bring him back to the Reds as a two- or three-inning reliever (and emergency starter), and I’m very cool with that. Let the ongoing bullpen auditions continue. But no, no, no way as a every-fifth day starter.

    • JayTheRed

      I’m with Tom on this… Make his do what Antone has been doing. a couple innings per time out and use him maybe 2 or 3 times a week at most. I really hope with how the guys who got called up to be Starting Pitchers have performed I would hope they would get more opportunities. Let Hoffman go to the bullpen to help the TEAM out more.

  4. Old-school

    Im not a service time expert but Santillan and Vlad have already missed out on enough time this year to get the 180 days or whatever it is so theres no advantage for the Reds to send them back to AAA for non baseball reasons?

    • Tom Reeves

      Super 2 status is a little weird because it’s not a date set in stone – it floats based on some sort of equation on the number of rookies and their service time. I suppose for these two rookie pitchers, super2 could come into play.

      That impacts at what point they can file for arbitration but not free agency.

    • Jim Walker

      Doug often expresses a good point of view on service time and pitchers which is that the career life of pitchers is usually so perilous it seldom if ever makes much sense to hand wring over their service status. This said……

      If they finish out the entire remaining 2021 season at MLB they would likely become Super2 guys for arbitration purposes if that even exists after the CBA carnage clears and they get there following the 2023 season (presumably).

      Otherwise, as nearly as I can figure, they would have to be under 172 total days at the end of the 2022 regular season for service time to come into play. If they perform well enough for ST to even be a concern, they aren’t likely to come in under that. And again that presumes no changes in the whole Arbitration/ Free agency system in the CBA redo.

    • Old-school

      Thanks Tom and Jim.
      Count me skeptical. Even if the new CBA moves the needle 10% in the players direction for FA service time and arbitration, I could see the Reds already planning for that. If Hoffman and Gray return to the rotation and Vlad and Santillan return to AAA for more “ seasoning” as starters, then ownership truly isnt interested in winning. Santillan hoffman and Vlad are 3 of the best 12 pitchers on the 26 man roster. We can debate starting vs bullpen . Id put Hoffman in the bullpen and let Vlad and Santillan compete for the 5th spot

      • Jim Walker

        Don’t get me started here 🙂 …….

        Judging from the make over imposed on the minor league system, I would not be seriously surprised to see the entire Service Time/ Arbitration/ Free Agency system turned on its ear. MLB clearly wants to be directly responsible financially for fewer players from the rookie levels right on up through to the top (with increased non-tenders of pre-arbitration and arb eligible guys).

        Overall players are probably going to be moved toward unrestricted free agency more quickly but in a way the teams feel it will help them as much or more than individual players. I would not be surprised to see changes such as some or part of the arbitration system replaced by a restricted free agency period which allowed a team to retain a player by matching another team’s formal offer or receiving more meaningful compensation if they allowed the player to move during the restricted period.

        It is also possible we could see service time changed to perhaps start counting from the time a player was placed on a 40 man roster regardless of whether he was on option to the minors or with the MLB team.

        Overall teams will be looking to more quickly identify and lock down their “keepers”, often earlier than now. It will be interesting to see how MLBPA reacts to this turn which could pay out more money but to fewer pockets.

  5. Old-school

    Revier Sanmartin ejected in AAA
    For sticky substance

    Do minor leaguers get 10 games too?

    I cant help but think if the relationship between Manfred and the owners and the players wasnt already irretrievably broken for a 2022 lockout/strike- the sudden top down manfred edict finished it.

    Its almost like the owners dont want baseball in 2022?

    • MBS

      I’m disappointed he was cheating, but I’m glad he was caught. Pitchers would be very upset if hitters were corking bats again. I get players are always looking for an edge, but if you break the rules, there should be consequences. It should be interesting to see which pitchers show a noticeable decline.

  6. Klugo

    If he replaces a healthy Gutierrez in the rotation , Ima gonna lose it.

    • LGR

      I’m going to guess it’ll be Tony, but I’d assume Tony would stay in the pen.

      • Klugo

        I gotta believe Gray will move Tony. I hope Vlad stays in the rotation and they move Hoffman to the pen. But I’m not so sure now.

      • MBS

        @Klugo, that’s the most likely scenario

  7. Fanman

    Bell needs to address base running. More aggressive and not tolerate not running hard, not sliding hard to break up double plays and giving up on plays. Most of team hustles.

    • Jimbo44CN

      True, Nobody on this team should be loafing out of the box. If you hit it, run. There should be no Manny Machados on this team. !

  8. LGR

    Can we get Alejo up here already. Certainly we could use .450 OBP in this lineup somewhere. If it’s not in front of Wink and Nick to score for them, then behind him to knock them in. Yes, he doesn’t hit homers, but who cares. The guy can hit. He could be this lineups Adam Frazier.

    • MBS

      I don’t get how Lopez is not up here already. Pairing him with India as the 1, 2 is very tempting.

      • LGR

        Right. As much as I’d love to have him hit in front of Wink and Nick.. those 2 get stranded so much that I’d almost want Alejo to bat like.. 5th or something. I also wouldn’t mind India and Alejo batting 9th and 1st, that way Winker can still get as many at bats as possible.

  9. LGR

    Very good AA debut for Ashcraft. 9 IP, 2H, 8K, NO WALKS.

      • LGR

        Graham Ashcraft. One of the higher up Reds prospects. Made his Double A debut tonight. Looked very strong.