KC Royals reliever Luke Hochevar was not available on Sunday in Seattle due to a “tight” pitching elbow.
Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost indicated on Sunday that Hochevar’s rest was a day-to-day thing and the team doesn’t seem that concerned. However, given Hochevar’s Ulnar Collateral Ligament injury history which forced him to miss the 2014 season with Tommy John surgery to repair his right (throwing) elbow, any tightness is a concern.
Any significant injury to Hochevar would be a significant blow to the KC Royals bullpen given that set-up man Joakim Soria has yet to get in a groove in 2016. With Soria’s troubles, Hochevar has stepped in as part of the three-headed bullpen monster that the Kansas City Royals rely upon to close out games.
Before Soria’s struggles, Hochevar had carved out a role for himself as the staff “fireman”—the go to guy to face sticky situations late in the game.
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Currently, Luke Hochevar’s impressive 2.61 ERA in 10.2 IP with 11 strikeouts is picking up where he left off in 2013 when he established himself as a dominant reliever after a mediocre track record as a starter.
While the KC Royals have received a boost from long-men Dillon Gee (1.46 ERA in 12.1 IP) and Chien-Ming Wang (3.68 ERA in 7.1 IP) so far this season, losing Hochevar would leave the Kansas City Royals without a fireman. There is still impressive bullpen depth at AAA Omaha, so it’s hardly a critical situation if even the worst happens and Hochevar goes go down with a second torn UCL.
I must confess, I’m cheering for Luke Hochevar. I well remember when KC Royals fans heaped their frustration upon him as a former no. 1 overall pick who wasn’t cutting it in the rotation. Hochevar persevered and became an outstanding reliever. I’d like to see him continue to enjoy the success that he’s earned.