ROOKIE PITCHERS STILL LEARNING HOW TO FOCUS
Rockies rookie right-hander Jeff Hoffman certainly did not pitch well in a 13-5 loss to Pittsburgh on Friday night. His seven runs, nine hits and four walks allowed over three innings is evidence of that.
But there were factors out of Hoffman’s control that contributed to that ugly line. The Pirates doinked three hits off him in their two-run first inning. Plus, Hoffman got squeezed by home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez. According to Statcast’s strike zone imaging, eight Hoffman borderline strikes were ruled balls. Because four of those were first pitches, Hoffman ended up pitching from behind in the count.
But as they say, “that’s baseball,” and adversity is something young pitchers need to be able to block out and put behind them. That’s the next step in Hoffman’s maturation.
“One thing that I’ve learned is that there is going to be at least one or two times in your start when you are really going to have focus and bear down — I mean really bear down — and make great pitches,” said 25year-old right-hander Jon Gray, who’s slowly learning how to deal with adversity, especially at Coors Field. “A lot of times, that’s going to make the difference between whether you win or lose, or how long you’ll pitch.”
Manager Bud Black preaches that walks will destroy a pitcher at Coors Field. Gray, who has walked six batters in 17 innings at home (3.18 walks per nine innings), has taken that to heart.
“I don’t like walks here,” Gray said. “I would rather give someone a heater and let them hit it out, then walk them. Because if you walk somebody in this park, all sorts of things can happen.”
Hoffman is averaging 4.45 walks per nine at Coors, followed by lefty Kyle Freeland 3.07, right-hander Antonio Senzatela 2.89 and right-hander German Marquez 2.49 (entering Saturday night’s game).
Bettis on fast track. Veteran right-hander Chad Bettis, returning from his bout with testicular cancer, is moving closer to joining Colorado’s starting rotation. He’s scheduled to pitch for Triple-a Albuquerque on Sunday at Salt Lake and throw 60 to 65 pitches.
If all goes well, he would increase his workload to 80 pitches Friday. At that point, the Rockies might consider adding him to their rotation.
Footnotes. In case you missed this tidbit, Nolan Arenado is only the fifth player in bigleague history with a three home-run game, a cycle and a walk-off homer in the same season. The others are George Brett (1979), Ted Williams (1946), Joe Dimaggio (1937) and Jimmie Foxx (1933). All of those players are in the Hall of Fame. … Charlie Blackmon’s 14-game hitting streak, tied for the longest of his career, ended Friday night. … Tyler Chatwood, who pitched a simulated game Friday, said his strained calf felt fine Saturday.