The Colorado Rockies made news when they called up top pitching prospect Jeff Hoffman this summer, and in his brief time in the big leagues, he has struggled.
This, though, means nothing for his future in the game.
So far, Hoffman is 0-3 with an ERA of 5.60 in his four Major League starts. He’s gone through it all — lack of command, getting behind early, high pitch counts — but it’s all just part of the development process.
In his last start, Hoffman got shelled for seven runs on six hits, lasting just 2.2 innings.
“I didn’t lose focus,” Hoffman told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. “I just think a couple of pitches moved back over the plate and found barrels. That was the main thing. That stuff happens. You just have to move ahead and make the next pitch and get out of it.”
Pitch count has played a big role in his struggles, but Walt Weiss believes that can be fixed.
“Jeff needs to get into better counts,” manager Walt Weiss said. “He’s got the weapons to be really good; he just has to command his stuff better.”
Lucky for Hoffman, all these issues can be corrected. And to understand why, just look at his teammate Jon Gray.
Gray was called up late last season, similar to Hoffman, and struggled with an 0-2 record and 5.53 ERA. An offseason later, Gray has bounced back, looking the Rockies’ ace of the future — 9-8 record and 4.69 ERA.
The Rockies called up Hoffman to give him a glance at the bigs prior to his first full season. That way, when next season rolls around, he has some time on his tenure which should give him an advantage.
The truth is that it’s perfectly okay for Hoffman to be struggling right now — he’s supposed to be. And the Rockies would much rather him struggle now than in 2017, when they’ll be expecting him to play a major role on the Rockies pitching staff.
It’s a process of trial and error, with more error than success, but like anything, Hoffman will learn from his mistakes, which will make him into a better pitcher moving forward.