Jeff Hoffman has to be snake-bitten when it comes to getting named the Colorado Rockies scheduled starter. Twice this season the right-hander was in line to be called up to start for the Rockies, and both times, inclement weather washed out his opportunities.
That shouldn't be the case this time. Hoffman, one of the main assets acquired in the trade that sent Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto four years ago, looks like he'll finally get the chance to pitch for Colorado this season when the Rockies open a three-game interleague series with the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.
Hoffman was all set to start April 10 against Atlanta, but cold, wintry weather postponed that game. When left-hander Tyler Anderson went on the injured list in early May, Hoffman was again scheduled to start, this time against San Francisco. Rain wiped out that chance.
The Rockies have had four open days since then, so they've gone with a four-man rotation. However, they're now in a stretch of 12 games in as many days, so Hoffman's chance is here. He hasn't been officially announced as the starter, but he was scratched from his Triple-A start on Wednesday, and MLB.com reports that he will start vs. Baltimore.
Hoffman (0-1, 7.20 ERA) has never faced the Orioles. He will go against rookie left-hander John Means, who has been a small bright spot for the struggling O's.
Means wasn't on anyone's radar before the season, but he has been a steadying force for Baltimore. In 11 games -- seven starts -- he is 5-4 with a 2.68 ERA. He came into 2019 with only one major league appearance, and that was 3 1/3 innings of relief last season.
Means' five victories are one-third of the team's total this season.
"You can't say enough about how well John's throwing the ball this year," teammate Chris Davis told The Baltimore Sun last week. "He's been huge for us. I'm just proud to see the way he's handled it and the way he has gone about his business."
The Orioles have struggled all season, and they are in a prolonged skid heading into Coors Field. Baltimore has lost six straight and 13 of its last 15, and is coming to Denver after getting swept at home by the New York Yankees in a four-game series.
Facing a struggling team might be what the Rockies need to get back on track at home. They are just 9-11 at Coors Field, a place where they usually dominate. A shaky and injured pitching staff is one reason, as is a lineup that strikes out frequently. Last week, Boston starter Chris Sale fanned 17 Colorado batters in just seven innings, but the Rockies recovered to win in 11 innings.
Things have picked up offensively lately. The Rockies averaged five runs a game in their recent eight-game road trip but went only 3-5 because the staff allowed 41 runs, capped by Thursday's 14-6 loss at Pittsburgh.
"We are in a good spot offensively right now, because we're just trying to put together good at-bats," catcher Tony Wolters said Wednesday. "We aren't trying to get just the big hits, but we're trying to get on base to where we can have long innings. Right now we're just simplifying our approach and trying to fill up the middle."
Colorado got some more bad news when closer Wade Davis went on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday with an oblique strain. Davis is off to a strong start with seven saves in as many chances and a 2.45 ERA. Manager Bud Black announced right-hander Scott Oberg will be the interim closer.