J.J. Hoover to handle closer’s role for the Reds

AP Photo/Billy Hurst

Pity the man who has to fill the enormous shoes of Aroldis Chapman. The Reds sent the flame-throwing left-hander to the Yankees earlier this offseason, leaving an enormous vacancy in the back of the bullpen. Reds manager Bryan Price says that the closer’s role is now J.J. Hoover‘s to lose, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports.

Hoover, 28, is no slouch. Over parts of four seasons with the Reds, the right-hander has a 3.34 ERA with 225 strikeouts and 101 walks in 223 2/3 innings. His fastball even sits at a capable 93 MPH. There are some warning flags, though, as Hoover’s strikeout rate dropped from 27 percent to below 20 percent between 2014-15 and his average walk rate (11 percent) is rather high for someone handling high-leverage innings.

Price also mentioned prospect Zack Weiss as someone to keep an eye on. Across 52 innings at Double-A Pensacola last season, he compiled a 2.42 ERA and a 68/14 K/BB ratio. The 23-year-old was selected by the Reds in the sixth round of the 2013 draft and was used as a closer exclusively in 2015.