Tag: Luke Hochevar

Luke Hochevar Injury: Updates on Royals Star’s Elbow and Recovery

The Kansas City Royals and Luke Hochevar were dealt a significant blow earlier in the week when it was reported by Dick Kaegel of MLB.com that the right-hander would miss time with a sprained pitching elbow. 

It turns out things were much worse than that, as Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star spoke to Royals manager Ned Yost who confirmed that Hochevar will need elbow reconstruction surgery. 

This puts a significant dent in Kansas City’s pitching rotation. Hochevar was competing to be the fifth starter in the rotation, though his track record in that role didn’t make it seem like a good fit. The 30-year-old has a 5.44 career ERA in 128 starts, compared to a 2.06 ERA in 62 relief appearances. 

McCullough reported more of Yost’s comments:

“He’s one of my favorite players,” Yost said. “So it hurts knowing that he’s been through this whole process of the rebuilding, gotten to a point where now we have a chance to compete. He’s not going to be a part of it on the field. But with his personality, and who he is, he’s still going to be a big part of it off the field.

The Kansas City Star reporter also talked to Hochevar about what the injury meant: 

“The toughest part about it is we’re primed this year to win,” Hochevar said during an emotional session with reporters. “You want to be part of that dog pile in September. The way the team’s shaping up, we’re going to win. That’s not a doubt. From every standpoint, I want to be a part of it. It’s just not going to happen.”

McCullough also wrote about Hochevar’s injury in the Kansas City Star, saying the Royals reliever made a point to ask teammate Bruce Chen, who had Tommy John surgery in 2007, what he should do. 

It’s hard. You have been training all offseason for the season. And then one day, one pitch, you feel something. And the next day you don’t feel as good. Your whole thing, all your goals shift directions, and now you don’t know where you want to go.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore spoke about Hochevar’s injury, impending free agency and what it means for his future with the franchise, via 610 Sports Radio’s Josh Renier.

Hochevar is scheduled to become a free agent after this season. He’s spent his entire career in Kansas City. 

The Royals built one of the best bullpens in baseball last season, which Hochevar was a huge part of. They had the best ERA in the American League (2.55), highest strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.07) and strikeouts per nine innings (9.57) in baseball. 

Hochevar had his best season in 2013, posting a 1.92 ERA in 70.1 innings with just 41 hits allowed and an 82-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio. 

If there is a silver lining for the Royals, it’s that they have plenty of power arms with Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow to absorb the loss of Hochevar without a huge drop off. 

Still, it’s an unfortunate situation for a pitcher who never lived up to the hype as a No. 1 pick in 2006, but finally found a successful niche as an MLB pitcher. 


If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 

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Luke Hochevar: Kansas City Royals Righty Wins AL Best of the Night Award

When the Kansas City Royals selected Luke Hochevar with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, they picked him ahead of standout prospects like Evan Longoria, Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw, Brandon Morrow and Drew Stubbs.

They clearly knew what they were doing. After all, Hochevar has been one of the best pitchers in the major leagues…

…In his last two starts.

Back on June 19, Hochevar spun 7.2 shutout innings against the Houston Astros to earn his fourth win of the season. That was good, but his start on Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays was even better.

Hochevar threw the second complete-game shutout of his career, blanking the Rays on seven hits and a walk while striking out eight in a game the Royals won 8-0. Per Baseball-Reference.com, he earned a game score of 80, a personal best for the season.

You can catch highlights of Hochevar’s dominance over at MLB.com. You’ll see that he didn’t do anything too fancy. He just kept his pitches down in the zone and went to his offspeed stuff with two strikes, which, of course, is Pitching 101.

Though I must admit, the two strikeouts he got with his two-seam fastball on the inside corners to lefties were quite dandy.

Hochevar picked up his fifth win on the season to run his record to 5-7. His ERA dropped from 5.65 to 5.07, the lowest it’s been since late April.

A couple weeks ago, Hochevar’s ERA stood at 6.27. According to the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN.com), the last pitcher to have an ERA that high through at least 10 starts before throwing 16 straight shutout innings was Tim Wakefield in 1993.

Now you know. And as we all know…

At any rate, I’m giving Hochevar today’s American League “Best of the Night” award for his performance on Monday. He was as good as I’ve ever seen him, and he helped the Royals snap a mini three-game losing streak.

Might this be the start of something big for Hochevar? If the story of his career is any indication, probably not. He has a tendency to come through with sharp performances every now and then, but for the most part, he tends to be underwhelming (see “bad”).

Royals blogger and Grantland.com columnist Rany Jazayerli said it best on Twitter:

He’s right, you know.

I’ll give Hochevar this much credit: At least he was better than Rays starter Alex Cobb on Monday night. Cobb also pitched a complete game, but he allowed eight earned runs on 13 hits in the process. 

Per ESPN Stats & Information, the last pitcher to allow eight earned runs in a complete game was Randy Johnson in 1998.

Yup, we can now put Luke Hochevar, Tim Wakefield, Alex Cobb and Randy Johnson all in the same sentence.

Clearly, there wasn’t a whole lot of sense being made at Kauffman Stadium on Monday night.


If you ever want to nominate a player for the American League “Best of the Night” award, hit me up on Twitter.

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Spring Training: Lincecum Leads Giants over Kansas City

On Monday, it was a trip to Kansas City’s spring training facility to see the Royals and San Francisco. Outside of the Chicago Cubs, the Giants are the biggest draw in the Cactus League and easily had more than half the fans of the 6,243 in attendance.

To the delight of much of the crowd, San Francisco won 2-1, as both teams used a mix of regulars and subs for about six innings, before the younger guys with numbers of 60 or higher took over.

Last season, the Giants were last in the National League in scoring and 29th in baseball, with a large part of their problem being they swung (and often missed) at more pitches that were out of the strike zone than any other team in the major league. The return of Buster Posey will help, although you don’t go from being the lowest scoring team in your league to becoming the 1970s Big Red Machine because of one player.

Part of the change in culture was noted when San Francisco got a runner on first base. If that player had reasonable speed, they would be looking to steal second, and if a hit ball was a questionable gapper, the runner would try to advance the extra base.

Kansas City’s farm system is reportedly well stocked and the parent club was sixth in runs scored in the junior circuit in 2011. Can the Royals maintain a solid scoring team and improve its pitching to continue its march to become a .500 club? That answer will come later and it will be their pitching that will make that determination.

Giants Notes: Tim Lincecum threw four good innings, striking out four and permitting one walk and one hit. Lincecum utilized his curveball for the first time this spring and had good results, if not total command just yet. “This is a lot better than my last outing (five runs on seven hits and a walk with no strikeouts),” Lincecum said. “The fact I doubled my innings helps and my arm and my body still feel good and I still kept my mechanics. I’m trying to take that as a positive and run with it.” While there are still three weeks left in spring training, Lincecum’s velocity is of possible concern. If the radar gun numbers on the scoreboard are to be believed, Lincecum topped out at 90-91 MPH—just like last season—and not at the 93-95 range of his Cy Young seasons. This should be looked at further once the season starts.

San Francisco has a great deal of catching depth behind the healing Buster Posey, with the likes of switch-hitting 22-year-old Hector Sanchez, who will probably start the year in the minors along with vets Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart.

The Giants are very excited about center fielder Gregor Blanco, who reached based four times on Monday and raised his batting average to a scalding .545. Blanco earned MVP honors in the Venezuelan Winter League and has not missed a beat in wearing a San Francisco uniform for the first time.

Freddy Sanchez is expected to take the field sometime this week, having been a DH to this point in coming back from a torn labrum last June. Among the people playing second base is Joaquin Arias, who made three sensational plays. The 27-year-old doesn’t appear to be a threat with a bat in his hand, but give him some leather and he’ll get the job done.

Brett Pill had two hits and played first base yesterday, and it is perplexing that it seems the Giants’ front office really wants this 27-year-old to play over Brandon Belt, who is four years younger and has considerably more power.

San Francisco’s projected win total is 87 and if that is to be reached, they need Posey and Sanchez back to their old selves and others to be a force. If manager Bruce Bochy stays committed to being aggressive on the base paths and the starting pitching holds up, there is no reason the Giants cannot return to the postseason and win 90 games in 2012.

Royals Notes: Having never seen Luke Hochevar live before, the immediate reaction is he throws harder than I would have guessed, consistently ringing up 95 mph on the radar gun. Last season, his career took off in a new direction by adjusting his arm angle to make his slider appear like his sinker, causing hesitation by batters. In the second half of last year Hochevar had a 3.52 ERA and averaged 7.7 punch-outs per nine innings. On Monday, while throwing hard, his pitches lacked movement in surrendering two runs on four hits over three innings and was taken deep by Conor Gillaspie. This is an important year for the 6’6″ right-hander who turns 29 in September and needs to show that he’s more than just another arm on what might be an ordinary club.

For the first time in memory, Kansas City has enough quality pitchers in camp and they will actually have to send somebody down because they were not just quite good enough to make the big club, instead of choosing the lesser of evils. Manager Ned Yost has talked about the competition being extremely “stiff”, using that word four times in the same sentence recently. While it is debatable about the exact quality of this contingent, it is a big upgrade over prior years.

Another huge positive for the Royals would be the return to form of closer Joakim Soria, who suffered declining strikeout numbers and less command a season ago. If Soria does not return to previous form, the match of him and new setup man Jonathan Broxton could cause a sharp increase in the need for Maalox in the Kansas City area. Yost would be foolish not to maximize the talents of last year’s setup star Greg Holland, who struck out three of the four San Fran hitters he faced Monday.

Any lineup that includes Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer is a terrific place to start. If Alex Gordon can have the same kind of breakout season he did last year and be a touch more selective at the dish, Kansas City’s offense will be capable of scoring runs in bunches. However, to surpass the oddsmakers total of 80 projected wins and finish second in the AL Central, the pitching has to improve overall and more Royals at the top and the bottom of the order have to be on base with greater regularity. 

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Spring Training: Can the Royals Carry Their Success into the Regular Season?


It’s what has been expected of the Kansas City Royals

But Ned Yost wants his players to make mistakes in spring training and learn from them.   

The Royals have not had a winning season since 2003, when they finished 83-79, good enough for third place in the AL Central Division.

Since then, the Royals have fallen short of .500 every year. 

It took a Cy Young Award winning performance from Zack Greinke in 2008 to get the Royals the closest to .500 they have been in seven years and even then, they finished 75-87 to put them in fourth place in the division.

Almost two weeks into spring training, the Kansas City Royals are 7-3, second in the Cactus League and first among all AL teams. This team of young talent has been playing hard, fierce and with a winning mindset. Ned Yost wants them to playing aggressive and wants them “running the bases like mad men,” as he put it. 

No doubt about it, they are. 

There’s a lot to be excited about this year for the Royals. Even with the departure of Greinke, who admitted toward the end of his time in Kansas City that it was hard for him to get motivated to pitch for a losing team, this season’s starting pitching staff will be something to keep an eye on.

Especially Luke Hochevar, who will most likely get the nod as the Royals No. 1. In his last outing, which came against the White Sox, Hochevar threw three innings, giving up one run on three hits to secure the win. 

It wasn’t the expected battle against Mark Buehrle that some might have thought it would be. Buehrle game up five runs on nine hits in three innings against the dominating Royals’ bats. 

Is this any indication of what Royals fans can expect in the regular season? It’s still early in spring training, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but this early success is definitely a good sign. 

If nothing else, the Royals are becoming one of those teams that is fun to watch, regardless of whether you’re a Royals fan or not.


How will the Royals shape up against the AL Central?

Since that winning season in 2003, in which they finished third in the AL Central, the Royals have not placed better than fourth, which they only did twice (2008 and 2009). 

So how will the Royals fair in 2011? 

The AL Central may not be the best division in baseball, but it is certainly one of the most competitive. There is really no front-runner in the Central this year, though the Minnesota Twins have to be the favorite to win the division, with the White Sox a close second, especially after the addition of Adam Dunn in the offseason.

The Royals have a realistic shot at third place this season. Detroit and Cleveland have weak teams, and Kansas City should be able to pick up a hefty amount of wins against them both, hopefully winning each season series. 

But can the Royals do better than third place? 

They can if they stay healthy and carry their spring training success into the regular season. 

Both Chicago and Minnesota are very strong teams and will easily reach 80 wins this season. Though the Royals lost their best pitcher, it’s as though they have also lost a huge, unmotivated weight. 

That may just be what this team needed to move forward.

The Royals have the best farm system in Major League Baseball. With youngsters like Kila Ka’aihue and Mike Moustakas (who both have what it takes to play at the major league level), along with a veteran presence in Jeff Francoeur, the Royals are a promising team. 

Some may say the Win/Loss column and stats don’t matter in spring training, but those stats can be used as a measurement of progress and confidence. The Royals just need to fight through growing pains and mistakes. 

That’s what they hope to accomplish in spring training. 

By the time the regular season comes around, this Royals team should be excited, confident and have a winning attitude. Manager Ned Yost has this team on the right track to do just that. 

Third place in the AL Central should be easy enough, but second place may not be that much of a stretch.

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