As last month’s trade deadline approached one of the Cincinnati Reds’ weak points that wasn’t discussed much was their shaky middle relief. As their anemic offense has done all season, the team’s bullpen deficiencies haunted them in full force Sunday night at Coors Field, as J.J. Hoover and his ‘pen mates coughed up two big late-inning leads, allowing the Colorado Rockies to sweep the doubleheader.
In the first game, the Reds entered the bottom of the ninth inning up 9-5 and with Aroldis Chapman on the hill. Cincinnati’s all-world close, though, gave up an uncharacteristic four walks and yielded to Hoover. After a sacrifice fly scored a run, center fielder Drew Stubbs took his former teammate deep to cap the dramatic comeback, walk-off victory for the Rox, 10-9.
In the second game, the score was tied at five heading to the bottom of the eighth, this time with Carlos Contreras on the mound for the Reds. Contreras gave up a couple of one-out singles, which prompted manger Bryan Price to bring in Manny Parra. Parra, in turn, fully opened the flood gates by giving up an infield single and two successive doubles to help the Rockies plate five runs.
The double header was necessitated by a cancellation on Saturday due to a water main break, and the two losses drop the Reds two games below .500 and eight-and-a-half out in the Central.
For his part, J.J. Hoover now stands at 1-8 with a 5.13 ERA and 1.424 WHIP in 2014. He has been terrible for most of the season, but manager Bryan Price keeps running Hoover out there in high-pressure situations, so the manager has to take at least some of the blame for that hideous won-loss record.
In some regards, it’s understandable that Price would try to nurse Hoover along, considering the strong season (5-5, 2.86, 1.106) turned in last year by the 26-year-old. The correspondence between the Reds’ late-July slide and Hoover’s worst performances is striking, though, and his continued usage has gone a long way toward sinking Cincinnati in the standings.
Nothing much has been pretty about the Cincinnati Reds in 2014, but J.J. Hoover’s stat line is about the “unprettiest” of all. You hear a lot about change-of-scenery deals, and that seems to be Hoover’s best bet for salvaging any kind of big league future. It’s hard to imagine he can wash off the stench from his summer on the Riverfront any time soon.