Oct 16, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Luke Hochevar (44) and catcher Salvador Perez (13) celebrate after defeating the Toronto Blue Jays in game one of the ALCS at Kauffman Stadium. Royals win 5-0. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
4. LUKE HOCHEVAR’S FIFTH INNING ESCAPE SHOWS THE VALUE OF KC’S BULLPEN DEPTH
The 2014 KC Royals demonstrated what three dominant relievers can do for a team in the playoffs. This season, the Kansas City Royals are showing what bullpen depth can achieve.
The first step to a miraculous comeback, in many cases, is a middle reliever keeping his team in the game. Hochevar performed this feat in the sixth inning for the KC Royals, escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam to keep the game at 3-0. Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins had an opportunity to deliver a knockout punch to Kansas City’s Game 2 aspirations.
Instead, Hochevar retired Pillar on an infield popup, and got Ryan Goins to ground out to first base.
You can see video of Hochevar’s heroics below:
While it’s obvious that Luke Hochevar played a big role in enabling Saturday’s comeback, having someone like him and Danny Duffy available as a bridge to the back end is often an unrecognized key to running down teams from behind.
Last season the mainstream baseball media really pushed the “third time through the order penalty” concept during the playoffs. Yet, often a team faces opposing hitters for the third time too early to bring in the back end of the bullpen. That reality often leaves the weakest pitchers of the relief corps trying to navigate through this critical part of the game.
Relievers like Luke Hochevar, Danny Duffy, and Chris Young (when he’s not starting) allow a KC Royals manager Ned Yost the luxury of pulling a starter before hitters can get too good a read on his stuff, without over-working his pen.
Next: Toronto Allowing David Price To Pitch The Entire Seventh Inning Highlights Their Shallow Bullpen