Some notes out of Denver to kick off Thursday morning…
- The Rockies are likely to promote right-hander Jeff Hoffman to start Friday’s game, Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports. It’s been a rough start to the season for the once-premium pitching prospect, as Hoffman will lug a 7.57 ERA with him from Triple-A to the Majors if he does indeed get the call. It’s been a boom or bust year for Hoffman so far, as he’s had two absolutely disastrous starts but also mixed in a series of impressive outings; Hoffman yielded 10 earned runs in four innings on April 16 and another eight earned runs in his most recent start, but he was quite good in the interim (1.96 ERA, 27-to-5 K/BB ratio in 18 1/3 innings of Triple-A ball, plus a respectable outing at the MLB level). This is a make or break year for Hoffman in many regards, as it’s his final option season. Tyler Anderson’s knee injury could create a long-term opening in the rotation for him, but Hoffman will obviously need to earn that spot moving forward rather than have it handed to him.
- Colorado plans to use Scott Oberg as the primary closer while Wade Davis is sidelined by an oblique injury, manager Bud Black told reporters last night (Twitter link via Nick Groke of The Athletic). Oberg’s 1.77 ERA makes him a logical first candidate for ninth-inning gig, but the numbers beyond that point are far more questionable. He’s punched out just 13 hitters against 11 walks in 20 1/3 innings so far this season while benefiting immensely from a .196 average on balls in play and a sky-high 89.6 percent strand rate. Those red flags lead metrics like FIP (4.70), xFIP (4.91) and SIERA (5.31) to forecast some substantial regression for Oberg over the long haul if he can’t rebound to his 2018 form. Last season, Oberg averaged 8.7 K/9 against just 1.8 BB/9 with a 56 percent grounder rate, so there’s certainly hope for improved peripherals moving forward, but it should be noted that his average fastball has dipped from 95.3 mph last year to 94.0 mph in 2019.
- Groke also tweeted yesterday that veteran lefty Jorge De La Rosa could pitch in a minor league game in the near future after being sidelined by an oblique issue early this season. Colorado inked the 38-year-old to a minor league contract last month on the heels of a solid 2018 campaign split between the D-backs and the Cubs. Left-handed relief has been a tough area for the Rockies all season, as Harrison Musgrave has struggled, Jake McGee has been injured and Mike Dunn has pitched to a 5.02 ERA (despite more encouraging K/BB numbers). De La Rosa would likely need at least a few weeks to build up before he’s a viable option, but a return could be a possibility at some point next month if he shows well in the minors.