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Too early to worry about Hoffman?

4/12/2010

Tom Haudricourt asks every Brewers fan (and not a few fantasy owners) the Question of the Day:

    Are you worried about Trevor Hoffman?

    After blowing his second save opportunity in three games Sunday night against St. Louis by allowing ninth-inning homers to Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, the future Hall of Fame closer was honest with his assessment of the situation.

    --snip--

    “You throw 85 mph right over the plate and that’s usually what happens,” Hoffman said with a forced smile. “Not to be funny about it because it’s embarrassing.

    “Honestly, it was a situation where you’re trying to pitch with a three-run lead. As easy as it might seem that they make home runs happen, they can easily make outs, too.

    “You’ve got to locate pitches, regardless of what you’re throw. They’re good hitters. They’re going to make even good pitches look bad.”

    So, where does Hoffman go from here?

    “I don’t want to give clich├ęs but you’ve got to take things one pitch at a time from now on out and try to simplify and get the ball over,” he said.

    “Just trust your routine. It’s been successful for a while up to this point. You’ve got to trust and believe it will get you out of this rut. You don’t want to be the weak link. I have to step it up.”

My favorite Early 2010 Trevor Hoffman Fun Fact: In 2009, Hoffman gave up two home runs in six months; this year he's given up three home runs in six days.

It's a funny game, and it's hard to figure Trevor Hoffman. At this best -- from 1994 through 2003 -- Hoffman threw his fastball around 90 and struck out more than a batter per inning. Then he got hurt, and since then he's struck out fewer hitters but also walked fewer. As a closer, he hasn't pitched a ton of innings plus he's been really good, so there haven't been many home runs. Within that "not many" is room for serious fluctuation, percentage-wise. Hoffman gave up two home runs in 2007, eight in 2008, and two in 2009.

Was he a different pitcher in 2008 than 2007 and 2009? Probably not. He was probably a little unlucky in 2008, and a little lucky in the other seasons. Hoffman's 42, and it's natural to wonder if he's suddenly washed up. But the guy had a 3.43 strikeout-to-walk ratio last season, and I'm not giving up on him yet.