Luke Hochevar Returns


It’s been slightly over a week now since the Royals decided to keep Luke Hochevar around and I am still coming to grips with the decision. All you need to know about Hochevar is this: after 128 starts and 771 innings, his 78 ERA+ is worse than what Kyle Davies posted in a Royals uniform (81).

Thirty-nine pitchers have started 50 or more games for Kansas City and Hochevar has a lower ERA+ than all of them. Among the same group, only Dan Reichert (-0.5) and Glendon Rusch (-0.3) join him on the negative side of bWAR (-0.3). I suppose you know all of this, after all, myself and others have been tracking these numbers for a few years now. Ned Yost believes Hochevar will bounce back in 2013, but his career best ERA+ is just a meager 87, so bounce back may not mean what Yost thinks it means.

I felt after the season that Hochevar may have pitched himself out of Kansas City with his September performance (9.56 ERA, 1.87 WHIP) but that turned out to be wishful thinking on my part. Dayton Moore was apparently fine with him having the worst season of his career, as well as his most expensive. I don’t get it.

July 25, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher

Luke Hochevar

(44) reacts after being ejected for hitting Los Angeles Angels center fielder

Mike Trout

(27) with a pitch in the fourth inning at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

With Ervin Santana in the fold, and Jeremy Guthrie re-signed, the time was perfect to part ways with the right-hander. It’s hard to listen to team officials talk about the financial challenges they face while they are at the same time preparing to flush more than four million dollars down the drain. Hochevar is talented, I get it, but it’s just not going to happen for him in KC. I want to be wrong, I would be thrilled to be wrong. I just don’t think I am.

Moore is insistent on bringing in another pitcher to front the rotation, which is fine (but not at this price), but that just raises more questions as far as I’m concerned. Right now, and not counting Will Smith and Jake Odorizzi, the rotation is full.

Here’s the starting corps as I see it:

So then, who is the odd man out if another starter is acquired? The front office spent last winter hyping Luis Mendoza and then Mendoza went out and led the team with a 97 ERA+, a mark Hochevar has never come close to achieving. Are they going bail on him after a semi-successful season? I suppose he’d move to middle relief but it still wouldn’t make sense due to the fact he was a more effective pitcher than Hochevar.  Bruce Chen is on the books for 4.5 million so good luck trying to find a team willing to take that on after the season he just completed. The logical, easy move would have been to non-tender Hochevar.

Five straight seasons Hochevar has pitched 100+ innings and five straight seasons he’s finished with an ERA+ under 90. What the heck, let’s make it six.