|Hoffmanâ€™s Struggles Hurting Brewers||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on April 21, 2010
It's the bottom of the ninth and the hometown Brewers are up by a run.Â Suddenly AC/DC's "Hell's Bells" blasts from the speakers as the all-time saves leader comes in from the bullpen to close out the game.
Or at least try to.Â In five appearances so far this season Hoffman has given up seven runs and has an ERA of 12.60.Â In those five ninth inning appearances he's blown two saves, given up nine hits, three home runs and in only one game has he gotten through the inning with no runs allowed.
Maybe it is.Â Closers, especially elite closers, tend to have a rough and gritty mentality when they come into games.Â They expect to dominate, they believe that no batter they face is good enough to beat them -- and you only need to look at the number of saves v. blown saves throughout the Majors to realize that more often than not they are right.Â And you see that echoed in the faces of fans as they rise to cheer on their team in the ninth inning.
Yet you don't see that as often with Hoffman these days.Â What you see is concern, and questions as fans wonder if this future first ballot Hall of Fame pitcher still has enough left in his tank to close tight games in a fiercely contested division.Â Those whispers aren't just in the stands, but in the dugouts, and maybe even within Hoffman's head, at least a little.
Clearly Hoffman doesn't believe he's lost it.Â This isn't the first time he's struggled. Â Every great pitcher has, and being great means that the struggle doesn't break you.Â That you pitch through it, get over it and tough it out.Â And you don't get to be a closer, let alone the all time saves leader, without being a very tough guy mentally.
No doubt Brewers manager Ken Macha will give him every chance to do just that, but even Hoffman has to realize that with a team hoping to contend, that the rope can't be infinitely long.Â After all the Brewers intend to be in a race this year, be it for the division or the Wild Card.
That might in reality be a bit of a stretch, but if the Brewers are going to try then they can't afford to give away too many games. Â And Hoffman has already cost them two in this very young season.Â That means they could be a single game behind the Cards and sitting at 7-5 instead of 5-7 as they do right now.
It could mean that unless Trevor puts it all together and soon, that he might temporarily find himself pushed out of the closer's role.Â Temporary is the key word there.Â This job, good or bad, is Hoffman's and barring injury or self destructing backup LaTroy Hawkins will remain a backup and Hoffman will continue to add saves to his already impressive resume.