WASHINGTON -- Last week, Rockies manager Walt Weiss said he was throwing touted righty Jeff Hoffman "right into the fire." But two starts in, both with their challenges and both losing efforts, Hoffman thinks it's all pretty cool.
Hoffman, the Rockies' No. 3 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, went six solid innings and gave up four runs (three earned) on six hits that included solo homers by Jayson Werth in the first and Daniel Murphy in the fifth as the Rockies fell to the Nationals, 8-5, at Nationals Park on Friday night.
In his first start after being called up from Triple-A Albuquerque against the Cubs at home, Hoffman lasted just four innings plus three batters in the fifth in a 9-2 loss. This time, after he gave up the Murphy homer with two out in the fifth, Hoffman was delighted that manager Walt Weiss let him pitch the sixth. Hoffman pitched around two walks for a scoreless frame to complete his 95-pitch outing on a positive.
The fun continues Wednesday, when Hoffman returns to Coors Field to face his third straight National League division-leading opponent, the Dodgers.
"I feel really grateful for that opportunity," Hoffman said. "They pulled me up at a good time to test me and to test our team. Next time out at home, we're going to go out there and get another one."
The pitch to Werth, a curveball, was poorly executed, and the one to Murphy, a slider, was in the strike zone with the count full. But Hoffman otherwise pitched solidly off his fastball. The Nationals hit several balls hard in the first but managed just one run, but as the evening continued, his secondary pitches were more consistent.
"He's got plenty of weapons," Weiss said. "These are growth experiences."
Hoffman has flashed the stuff that led the Blue Jays to select him ninth overall in the 2014 Draft and the Rockies to insist upon receiving him in the Troy Tulowitzki trade last July. But so far, unflappability is his most dominant trait.
Nats leadoff man Trea Turner, who played collegiately at North Carolina State and was a foe when Hoffman pitched at East Carolina, reached on an infield single and took second on shortstop Cristhian Adames' wild throw to open the third. Second baseman Daniel Descalso dropped Hoffman's pickoff throw to let Turner take third on another error, and Turner sped home on Murphy's one-out grounder to first -- a play on which most runners can't make the plate in time.
But that was the only run that inning.
Hoffman also gave up Anthony Rendon's leadoff double in the fourth and faced loaded bases with no outs. Rendon scored on Jose Lobaton's double-play grounder, and no other runs scored.
"It's just something that I've grown up doing," Hoffman said. "I've learned a lot of that in college, not to let anything faze you, not to show any emotion on the mound. Never let anything faze you. It's another weapon in my arsenal."