Much-maligned Luke Hochevar has struggled to make his season anything other than a failure so far, but it seems that he may finally decide to commence pitching and cease the belly-itching. In his first six starts, Luke compiled this sparklingly disastrous line:
28.0 IP; 39 H; 18 K; 12 BB; 28 ER; 9.00 ERA; .385 BABIP; .336/.408/.474 line against
And that includes three games in which he allowed two runs or fewer. There were just three games in there that really, truly, wholly stunk. People were understandably angry. Luke has been predictably unreliable at certain parts of the game throughout his career, but the streak of little success wasn’t quite what I (and others) had in mind for him this season. Of course, when it gets that bad, you can almost ensure that it can only get better from there. And, well, it did:
50.0 IP; 48 H; 42 K; 15 BB; 21 ER; 3.78 ERA; .321 BABIP; .262/.335/.388 line against
That’s in the eight starts since the 2.1-inning, seven-run stinker Luke threw on May 6 against the Yankees. I’d say that’s a significant improvement. Wouldn’t you?
Of course, there have still been some rough outings. Still, in those eight games, Luke only gave up more than three runs in three games, and he’s thrown two shutouts, each over seven-plus innings. I wouldn’t say that he’s going to be that great for the rest of the year, but if he can hover around a 4.00 ERA, even if you don’t like the stat, it would be a substantial piece of work for the Royals.
I don’t really want to discuss the pitches Luke has been using, how it’s changed, or any of the other things I usually bring up. This is more about slow starts and staying around anyway. The BABIP through Luke’s first six starts wasn’t even that astronomical, and it has remained high through his past eight starts nonetheless. As I said, we’re just seeing how players start slow and can come back from the abyss when you think all hope is lost.
I guess this is just as much about the team as it is about Luke Hochevar. The Royals have been at 10 and 11 games below .500 this season, and are now sitting at six games under. They’re 4.5 games back of the AL Central-leading White Sox, and the rest of the Central teams don’t seem to have any interest in winning games. And we’re approaching the All-Star Break, which means that we’ll be in the running, right, David Glass?
They’re going to be in it by the All-Star break. It’s easy to look at the first 12 games and say we could have played better, and we could have. But it is only 12 games. We’ll get there.
So, it’s still out there to grab. Even with injuries, Salvador Perez will be back soon. Luke Hochevar is pitching better. Eric Hosmer has started to hit. The pieces are there, and there’s still time to put everything together and salvage the season. Since their 19-28 record after losing to Cleveland on May 28, the Royals have gone 11-8 and are creeping back to relevance. Don’t sleep on them or any of the individual players. There’s still a chance they reach .500. There’s always a chance.