Rockies rookie right-hander Jeff Hoffman said hello, for the third time, on Monday. Then, for seven innings against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, he pitched as if he never wants to say goodbye again.
Hoffman, up from Triple-A Albuquerque, mixed pitches expertly while holding the Phillies to one run and three hits, with seven strikeouts, in seven innings in an 8-1 victory.
Can they really send him back? Asked about the future plan, Rockies manager Bud Black said, "That's sensitive information."
Hoffman (2-0) -- who was the key figure in the 2015 deal that sent star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto -- is presenting an argument.
"I may not have shown it last year or early on in spring. But I think they have some confidence in me now. Whatever that brings for me the rest of the year, I'm happy to do it for the team," Hoffman said.
It was the second winning spot-start for Hoffman, who couldn't crack a solid young rotation to start the season but is erasing the reasons not to add him. Hoffman threw 1 1/3 relief innings against the Cubs on May 9 as the 26th allotted player during a doubleheader. Two days later, he held the Dodgers to three runs with a career-high-tying eight strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings of a victory.
The Rockies needed Hoffman -- the club's No. 2 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com -- again Monday because of a rainout last week in Minnesota. He was ready.
The right-hander also recorded his first big league hit, sending a groundball past a diving Freddy Galvis into center field in the top of the fifth inning.
The first time through the Philies' order, Hoffman threw fastballs on 30 of his 38 pitches, one a career-hottest 97.3 mph to Aaron Altherr during a first-inning strikeout. The rest of the way to his 99 pitches, he used 32 off-speed and breaking pitches to 29 fastballs, and threw 15 out of 24 first-pitch strikes.
"I felt like we all made good contact with the ball and they made some nice plays," Hernandez said.
Altherr had two doubles, and he scored on Tommy Joseph's fourth-inning single. But Altherr's second double, which led off the seventh, set up Hoffman's finest work. Hoffman leaned on the breaking balls to fan Joseph and Maikel Franco, the Phillies' Nos. 4 and 5 hitters.
"I told Tony [Wolters, the catcher] after I came out of the game, the best slider and best curve came in the seventh," Hoffman said.
"It was a great step forward, a learning moment there when he's approaching 100 pitches in the seventh inning, for a young guy," Black said.
To add Hoffman, the Rockies optioned outfielder Raimel Tapia to Albuquerque. Tapia, the Rockies' No. 5 prospect, has gone 0-for-12 in inconsistent playing time over two callups. In Triple-A, Tapia is hitting .400 (46-for-115) with 15 doubles, three triples, seven walks, 17 strikeouts and eight stolen bases.
The Rockies are expected to activate shortstop Trevor Story from the 10-day disabled list soon. Story has missed the last 12 games with a left shoulder strain. Story hit .273 (3-for-11) with a home run and two RBIs in the four games. Story struggled before the injury, hitting .180 with 48 strikeouts in 111 at-bats -- but he had six home runs, six doubles and 17 walks.
The Rockies will likely remove a pitcher from the active roster. If it's Hoffman, they still could recall him before his next turn.