Closers have been a big topic in fantasy circles the first month and now Trevor Hoffman is a huge topic. Hoffman has been serving up more meatballs than a chef. He allowed two home runs to blow a save Tuesday night and was sent back out to protect a one-run lead Wednesday. Ryan Doumit hit a grand slam off him Tuesday and he homered off Hoffman again on Wednesday. It was the fourth blown save in his last five chances.
Hoffman has allowed six home runs in nine innings and blown four saves in seven chances. The most home runs he has allowed in a season is 10. Hoffman, 42, has relied on an 85 m.p.h. fastball the past few seasons along with a changeup that has resulted in success. The velocity is still the same, but the righthander has shied away from using his changeup and is going mainly with the fastball, which is getting hammered.
It's a small sample, but there has to be concern. He is the all-time saves leader and will be on a longer leash than most. Just one year ago, he blew just four saves and allowed two home runs with a 1.83 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and a 48/14 K/BB ratio in 54 innings.
Hoffman isn't issuing walks this season, but the strikeouts aren't coming either. He has 594 saves, so getting 600 is a big thing. Manager Ken Macha has already hinted that Hoffman could get Thursday off after working two consecutive games.
If the struggles continue and Hoffman does get removed as closer or gets a break from the ninth-inning role, I think LaTroy Hawkins would close. Hawkins has experience in the role, including 11 saves with the Astros last season. Based on the way Hawkins has been used -- he pitched the eighth inning Wednesday -- it appears that he would be the choice.
Carlos Villanueva has been the most dominant out of the bullpen with 11 scoreless innings. He has allowed five hits with a 14/5 K/BB ratio, but he pitched the sixth inning on Wednesday. Todd Coffey, who closed for the Reds in 2006, pitched the seventh. Keep in mind that Villaneuva has been prone to home runs in his career. With the way Macha has handled the pitching, I think Hawkins is first in line to replace Hoffman if a move is made. I think Hoffman will keep the job for now, but this can't continue.