Cincinnati Reds: J.J. Hoover is the Closer of the Future
With the Cincinnati Reds essentially having their bullpen set (spoiler alert: it will look a lot like last year), there isn’t a lot of room for guys to make their way into it. It’s a conundrum to say the least given the fact there are so many good pitchers the Reds have, but it’s a good conundrum to have. It creates a lot of competition for guys, and a few bad outings may cost a pitcher his spot.
But for guys like J.J. Hoover, who isn’t expected to make the Reds’ roster at the beginning of they year, the future holds bright for possibly next season or after that.
The closer role is essentially Jonathan Broxton‘s to lose in 2013. The Reds did sign Broxton to a three-year, $21 million deal and for very good reason.
The Reds acquired Hoover from the Atlanta Braves that sent Juan Francisco to the Braves last season. In his rookie year, Hoover opened many eyes. In 30.2 innings pitched, Hoover was 1-0 with a 2.05 ERA, struck out 31 and only walked 13 batters in 28 games. He gained a lot of respect around the clubhouse and was a guy Dusty Baker could rely on if he needed to.
So far in spring training, Hoover is showing that he can get guys out consistently. He has allowed two runs on nine hits and and struck out seven in five and two thirds innings pitched.
But before I get ahead of myself, the time for Hoover to step into the closer’s role will have to wait–for now. Hoover showed last season that he can pitch to MLB hitters and get them out too. He’s showing it again so far this year. Baker is the kind of guy who likes to rely on the veterans to get the job done, but said he does like the idea of Hoover being a closer in the future. I’m not suggesting that it will happen next year, nor do I expect it to with Broxton having a three-year deal and closer-like money. But if the Reds’ fans are looking to someone who can slam the door in the ninth, Hoover is your guy.
Follow Brad Stiene on Twitter, @bs_rant1