The Dodgers drafted Luke Hochevar twice and showings like Friday’s six shutout innings can tell you why. Hochevar struck out eight batters, walked none and gave up just three hits while the bullpen held a two run lead.
The trio of Jonathan Broxton, Louis Coleman and Kelvin Herrera kept the Dodgers split squad off the board in the last three innings. Altogether, the Royals pitchers struck out eleven and allowed five baserunners. Herrera pitched the ninth for a save. Broxton had two strikeouts in a 12 pitch inning. Both Broxton and Herrera are in the mix for the closer’s spot after Joakim Soria is opting for Tommy John surgery, and more outings like today’s should make Broxton a heavy favorite.
The Royals scored first in the second inning after a Mike Moustakas double was followed by newcomer Jason Bourgeois‘s single up the middle. That run held up but they added another run in the seventh after Eric Hosmer stretched a single into a double, moved to third and scored on a sacrifice fly. He also played in right field, an experiment by Ned Yost to get him some innings in the outfield in case they want to get Billy Butler in an interleague lineup at first while still getting Hosmer in the order. He had one play in right, a foul out down the line.
Of all the players on the field, though, Luke Hochevar stood out. After a solid 2011 second half, he’s so far carried it over to his spring performance. Through 14 innings, he has 15 strikeouts and only one walk. Granted, it’s only spring training, but he’s performing. He induced six ground outs as well. Trey Hillman, acting as manager for Don Mattingly (who was with the other squad), told Joel Goldberg that he had “really impressive command and control” noting that his slider has become more effective.
Hochevar’s slider can be among the best pitches in the league – yes, the league – if he can get it working. But he’s shown flashes of greatness before. He’s shown stretches of consistency before. It’s time for him to do so without falling apart in one start. He’s in line to make his second consecutive opening day start. While the rest of the potential starters waver, he’s the most stable. Will it hold up?