Brewers manager Ken Macha stopped short of making a formal declaration, but it appears he is ready to restore all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman to the closer’s role.
Hoffman allowed a hit and a walk in a scoreless seventh inning of Wednesday’s 5-0 loss to the Astros, his second appearance in three games in a non-save situation. According to baseball-reference.com, it was Hoffman’s first appearance earlier than the eighth inning since a seventh-inning stint on Sept. 2, 2003, Hoffman’s first game back from shoulder surgery.
He also worked a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 inning in Sunday’s win at Minneapolis, and Macha was asked whether Hoffman, who has 596 career saves, was ready to resume his drive to 600.
“We kind of talked about that several times today,” Macha said. “We’ll see how some things go. That is two good outings in a row, so I’ll talk to him [Thursday] and see how he’s feeling about himself.”
Hoffman has not pitched in a save situation since May 18 in Cincinnati, where he surrendered three runs on four hits in his fifth blown save this season without recording an out. He spent the rest of last week working on mechanics with Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson.
Carlos Villanueva went 1-for-2 in save chances and John Axford converted his only opportunity in Hoffman’s absence.
“We’ve been having an open conversation. I can’t say, ‘OK, Trevor is going to be the closer [on Thursday],’” Macha said. “We’ll have to work that out with him.”
In those conversations, Hoffman has indicated that he is much more comfortable with the routine associated with save situations, Macha said.