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The Bell Tolls For Trevor Hoffman

Hell's bells have ceased. It's just hell for Trevor Hoffman right now

At first, I thought it was just some fluke outings. But I have to realize that Trevor Hoffman is done.

OK, that’s harsh. Over/under 10 more saves for Hoffman this season? I’d say under. Why? Just watch Tuesday’s outing in Cincinnati. He blew yet another chance in spectacular fashion.

He entered the bottom of the ninth with a 4-2 lead. He faced five batters and retired none of them.

Line-drive single to center, two-run homer, double down the left-field line, a 3-0 count leads to a walk with ball four not even reaching the plate, game-winning single off the wall.

This made up Hoffman’s fifth blown save in 10 chances this season. He blew four saves all of last season. In the past six seasons, he hasn’t walked more than 15 hitters in any year. He’s on pace for about 30 walks. He has now allowed at least one run in eight of 14 appearances this year and his ERA is now up to 13.15.

Sure, the velocity on all of his pitches is down, but only by one or two MPH. As is usual with pitchers, it’s all about location. And for Hoffman, I think there are also some confidence issues right now. Rolen’s home run and Votto’s game-winner came on 73-MPH changeups. That’s slow, but they can be effective if Hoffman spots his mid-80s fastball. Yet, he couldn’t locate anything against the Reds. The two other hits came on cut fastballs that looked a lot more like sluggish hanging sliders. The walk was just ugly. You could watch the entire outing and say Hoffman didn’t throw one good pitch. He looked confused about what to do because, simply, nothing was working. Then when he went to the changeup, they didn’t get below knee level and that usually leads to problems.

I’m not sure who the Brewers could turn to in place of the future Hall of Famer — pretty much all of that bullpen has sucked — but I don’t think the Brewers can afford to stick with Hoffman right now. Put him on the DL for a fake injury. Send him to extended spring training. A great closer just doesn’t go from dominating to doing his own Daniel McCutchen imitation just because of age. Hoffman was already “old” last season when he had 37 saves and a sub-2.00 ERA.

We’re basically past the point in the season where you can naively say a certain player is off to a good or bad start. This is a horrible trend for Hoffman and something is wrong, either physically or mentally. This was his first save opportunity in 11 days, but he needs a true break to figure things out. I can’t stand to see him pitch like this for the next four months.

And I don’t want to see it because he is on my fantasy team. In those terms, I’m pretty close to dropping Hoffman in my 10-team standard league for the limited services of Manny Corpas. Yeah, it’s that bad.

Honorable mention: Votto hit a home run. It barely got over the wall. And by wall, I mean the batter’s eye.

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