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Game 46 Thoughts: Why Rush Hoffman?

Not much to say about this game itself — Roy Oswalt looked like his old self against a Brewers offense that seemed to be allergic to working the count (Casey McGehee saw all of 8 pitches in 4 AB’s), and the Astros offense managed to take advantage of a bad start by Chris Narveson.  The Brewers may not have won the game, but at the very least they may have hastened Oswalt’s exit from Houston — a few more outings like this one, and the Astros won’t have any problems finding a suitor on the trade market.

This game itself doesn’t have me worried about the future direction of this team.  Sometimes you just get beat by a stud pitcher.  No, what has me worried is — what else — the future of Trevor Hoffman and the closer role.

Tom Haudricourt notes that Macha told the press on Tuesday he was going to give Hoffman one more outing before moving him back into save situations.  Well, he made that appearance on Wednesday night and didn’t allow a run, although he wasn’t exactly sharp, either.  Adam McCalvy says Hoffman could regain the title of closer as early as Thursday.

My only question — what’s the rush?

Hoffman has only had two outings since taking time off to work on his mechanics with Rick Peterson.  While he has had better success in those two outings and hasn’t given up a run, how can we be sure that Hoffman’s control issues are completely resolved?  Against the Astros on Wednesday, he threw 16 pitches, but only 7 went for strikes.  He got a first-pitch strike against just 2 of the 5 batters he faced.  I’m not entirely convinced that the Trevor of old is back.

John Axford showed some promise working out of trouble as the closer on Sunday against Minnesota, and with other capable arms also able to nail down save situations in the future, I just don’t understand why Ken Macha seems intent on putting Hoffman back in that role without some more evidence that everything is back to normal.

Macha said he’ll talk to Hoffman and see how he feels about himself before making a decision — what exactly is Macha expecting Hoffman to say when he does that?  Reporters asked Hoffman how he felt before his mechanical tune-up was mandated, and he said he felt fine and didn’t think anything was wrong.  What do you think he’s going to say now?  I just hope — for Macha’s sake — that Hoffman is indeed “fixed,” and that he wasn’t just lucky to escape with a scoreless inning against a horrible Astros offense.

FanGraphs Win Probability

W: Oswalt (3-6)
L: Narveson (4-2)

MIL HR: None
HOU HR: None