06/04/09 8:45 PM ET
Hoffman named NL's top hurler in May
Brewers closer earns Pitcher of Month honor with 11 saves
By Jeff Shain / Special to MLB.com
Not so. And the second one came Thursday, when he picked up National League honors for the month of May.
The Brewers' 41-year-old master held opponents scoreless in 12 relief appearances during the month, adding 11 saves to his total. More importantly, he has yet to give up a run all year -- extending his streak to 16 innings with a four-batter ninth for his 14th save in Wednesday night's 9-6 victory.
"I try not to concern myself too much with that," Hoffman said before Thursday's series finale at Land Shark Stadium.
"I've learned over time that in this role, a couple of bad outings can really swing things the other way. I try not to put too much focus on that. When given the ball, just do your job."
He's been the cornerstone of a Brewers bullpen that entered Thursday's game with the third-best ERA in the Majors. Even after this week's rough run through the rotation, Milwaukee's 'pen owns a 3.27 ERA (entering Thursday) -- trailing only the Red Sox (2.86) and the Mets (3.10).
"I just know what he means to this club," manager Ken Macha said. "Our record wouldn't be near as good if he wasn't on this club."
Hoffman, who signed a $6 million free-agent deal in January, spent the season's first 17 games on the disabled list with a strained oblique. He made his Brewers debut with a 13-pitch inning against Pittsburgh and hasn't looked back since.
"I've just been off to a pretty fortunate start," Hoffman said. "You just try to put some strings together and ride them out. You're probably not as good as you look -- and not as bad as you think you are when you're not going well. So just keep your head down and get outs."
It's a demeanor Hoffman learned from his 2 1/2 months with the Marlins. As a rookie with Florida's original 1993 roster, he had a chance to observe Bryan Harvey at the height of his career.
"It was a good time to watch a guy like Bryan Harvey," said Hoffman, a Reds Minor Leaguer before the Marlins picked him up in the expansion Draft. "He just had a demeanor other than what I saw in Cincinnati with Rob Dibble.
"[Dibble] was a little more high-octane, a little more brash. Harvey was just kind of country quiet. Both were very successful at what they did, but they had different approaches. ... I found out the mold didn't always have to be one way."
Even with his fastball now topping out in the mid-80s, Hoffman has been nearly unhittable. He's given up just six hits and one walk this year.
He's been particularly tough against his original team -- 13 batters faced, 12 outs, four saves. If not for Casey McGehee's throwing error on Alejandro De Aza's grounder Wednesday night, Hoffman would be perfect.
Not bad for the last Marlin remaining from the club's first Opening Day roster.
"A nice distinction for a dinosaur," Hoffman quipped.
Jeff Shain is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.