May 18, 2010, 4:40 PM EDT
Trevor Hoffman’s first save opportunity since May 7 did not go well this afternoon. He came in to face the Reds with a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning and this happened:
Paul Janish single.
Scott Rolen homer.
Chris Heisey double.
Brandon Phillips walk.
Joey Votto single.
Hoffman now has a hideous 13.15 ERA, allowing 19 earned runs in 13 innings. To put that into some context, he hasn’t allowed more than 19 earned runs in a season since way back in 2002. He’s also blown five saves in 10 opportunities after going 37-for-41 last season.
I’ve been slower than many people to declare Hoffman toast because a) he’s been so great for so long, and b) his mid-80s fastball has led to premature burials in the past. With that said, serving up seven homers and 15 total extra-base hits in 13 innings sure seems to shout that the fastball-changeup combo that has baffled hitters for so long is just no longer fooling anyone.
Obviously the first step is a demotion from closer to middle reliever, perhaps giving Hoffman a chance to get on track in low-leverage situations. However, whether he’s working the ninth inning or the sixth inning a few more ugly outings and the Brewers will have no choice but to start thinking about simply cutting bait.
Much like watching Ken Griffey Jr. flail away in Seattle, it’s sad to see one of the greatest relievers of all time get knocked around like he’s throwing batting practice. Maybe the future first-ballot Hall of Famers can stage a dual retirement at midseason.
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