Tag:Luke Hochevar
Posted on: December 1, 2011 12:30 pm
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Homegrown Team: Kansas City Royals



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

Long a punching bag for fans and media alike, the Kansas City Royals have become a darling in recent years due to their strong farm system. We keep hearing about how they'll be a World Series caliber team by 2014 and the first wave of strong talent hit the bigs in 2011 -- with Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas leading the charge. There's more on the way, too. For the purposes of this exercise, though, the Royals get to add two All-Star veterans to the lineup who have long since departed. Oh, and they get back an aloof ace.

Lineup

1. Alex Gordon, LF
2. Johnny Damon, RF
3. Eric Hosmer, 1B
4. Carlos Beltran, CF
5. Billy Butler, DH
6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
7. Salvador Perez, C
8. Johnny Giavotella, 2B
9. Mike Aviles, SS

Starting Rotation

1. Zack Greinke
2. Luke Hochevar
3. Aaron Crow
4. Danny Duffy
5. Chad Durbin

Bullpen

Closer - J.P. Howell
Set up - Jeremy Affeldt, Greg Holland, Blake Wood, Tim Byrdak, Mike MacDougal
Long - Louis Coleman

Notable Bench Players

Matt Treanor, Kila Ka'aihue, Mark Ellis, David DeJesus, Mitch Maier, Jarrod Dyson

What's Good?

That really looks like a nice lineup. There's obviously some growing up to be done in the 6-7-8 spots, but that's a lot easier done when the top five spots are that strong. And remember, Wil Myers is on the way ...

What's Not?

With Beltran and Damon getting up into their high-30s, the outfield defense would lack range. Of course, DeJesus and Dyson are both available off the bench as late-inning defensive replacements, so the situation wouldn't be dire. There is no real closer, but that's a bit overrated anyway. And the starting rotation leaves something to be desired, for now, until Crow and Duffy prove their worth and some of the other prospects (like John Lamb and Mike Montgomery) start to arrive.

Comparison to real 2011

It's actually pretty similar, aside from a few huge names. These Royals have Beltran and Damon instead of Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur, while Greinke has been thrown atop the rotation. Those are upgrades and, remember, the real-life Royals didn't get full seasons out of many of their young players. It's reasonable to put this squad above .500 and maybe even lingering around in the playoff chase into August.

Up Next: Atlanta Braves

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Posted on: September 15, 2011 7:50 pm
 

Royals shut down Hochevar, Francis next

Luke HochevarBy C. Trent Rosecrans

After throwing a career-high 198 innings, the Royals are shutting down starter Luke Hochevar. The former top overall pick of the draft went 11-11 with a  4.68 ERA in 2011, the most innings he's thrown in his professional career.

Last year he threw 108 innings -- 103 for the Royals -- after throwing 191 innings in 2009 between the Royals (143) and Triple-A Omaha (48).

Hochevar picked up his 11th victory of the season on Wednesday, throwing six innings in his 31st start of the season. The 28-year-old went 6-3 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 starts after the All-Star break.

"Could he finish the year? Yeah. He wants to," manager Ned Yost told reporters (via the Kansas City Star). "But for me, it just doesn't make any sense to continue to push his innings when he's in a good spot. It gives us an opportunity to look at somebody else."

Hochevar would have made two more starts, on Tuesday and on Sept. 25. The Star's Bob Dutton speculates right-hander Luis Mendoza could take Hochevar's spot if the Triple-A Storm Chasers finish out the Pacific Coast League playoffs in a timely fashion. Omaha currently leads Sacramento 2-0 in the best-of-five championship series. Omaha plays at Sacramento on Friday with heralded left-hander Mike Montgomery scheduled to pitch in what could be the clinching game. Mendoza isn't on the team's 40-man roster, but the Royals currently have an open spot. Right-handers Vin Mazzaro and Sean O'Sullivan are on the 40-man and could also get the call, with at least one of them likely to make a start for Kansas City before the end of the season, if not both.

Kansas City has already shut down lefty Danny Duffy. Duffy went 4-8 with a 5.64 ERA in 20 starts this season. Left-hander Jeff Francis will also be shut down after his start on Thursday against the White Sox. Francis entered the night 5-16 with a  4.88 ERA.

Felipe Paulino, Everett Teaford and Bruce Chen are left in the rotation to finish out the season.

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Posted on: May 26, 2011 1:55 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Crawford, Salty coming around



By Matt Snyder


Carl Crawford, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox. In a game where the Red Sox pounded the MLB-best Indians for 14 runs on 20 hits, two players stood out. They stood out because they had drastically fallen short of expectations offensively in the early going for their slow-starting team. Wednesday, though, may be a sign the worm is finally starting to turn for Crawford and Saltalamacchia. Crawford went 4-4 with two doubles, a home run, three runs and two RBI. Saltalamacchia went 2-4 with a homer, three RBI, two runs and a walk. Crawford's average is now a season-high .229 (and he's hitting .309 in May). He closes the three-game series in Cleveland 6-11 with two doubles and two home runs. Saltalamacchia, meanwhile, is eight for his last 21 with four home runs and seven RBI. He's even walked more times than he's struck out in that span, which is a great sign considering he had 24 strikeouts and four walks prior.

Brooks Conrad, Braves. The pinch hitter entered Wednesday with 31 plate appearances in 27 games. He was hitting just .130 with zero home runs and a .474 OPS. Yet in the top of the 11th against the Pirates, Conrad took Jeff Karstens deep for what proved to be the game-winning home run.

Erik Bedard, Mariners. The former ace is trying to prove that he's healthy and back on track. He's doing pretty much all you could ask after everything he's been through. Bedard worked six scoreless innings Wednesday night and picked up his third straight winning decision. Here's his line in his last five starts, which includes a 3-0 record: 33 IP, 28 K, 7 BB, 1.09 ERA, 0.85 WHIP. He's got a lot of season left, but this is why they invented an award called the Comeback Player of the Year.



Brandon Phillips, Reds. You know that 19-inning loss the Reds just suffered? The one where they emptied out their entire bullpen and completely abused Carlos Fisher's poor right arm? Yeah, the Reds shouldn't have had to do that. There were myriad reasons for this, but the most glaring was Phillips being picked off second base in the 11th. It was bad because he was picked off as the go-ahead run in a tie game. It was bad because white-hot Jay Bruce was on deck. It was bad because it happened in a stretch where the Reds drew three consecutive walks after Phillips was hit with a pitch. But it was completely unforgivable because Phillips was socializing with Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins when he was nabbed. Phillips wasn't even remotely paying attention when the throw got him by several feet. He's well-chronicled for having a lovable personality, but you can't have that in a professional. His job is to play baseball. To his credit, he knows it. He told reporters after the game he takes all the blame for the loss.

Justin Berg, Cubs. If you ever want a reason to pay more attention to stats other than ERA for relievers, check out this debacle. Berg relieved Casey Coleman with one out in the second inning and the bases loaded. Berg threw 12 pitches. Every single one of them was a ball. That means he walked the only three batters he faced, forcing in three runs. They were all charged to Coleman. Since James Russell came in and got out of the jam, none of Berg's baserunners scored. He was left with a line of zero innings, three walks and zero earned runs. And the Cubs lost by three.

Luke Hochevar, Royals. Obviously some credit has to be given to the Orioles for the eight run fourth inning -- and some blame has to be passed along to Alcides Escobar for an error that allowed the eighth run -- but Hochevar simply has to be better than this. After three scoreless innings, he let this happen in the fourth: Double, single, ground out, walk, double, walk (with a wild pitch), single, walk, single, single, pop out, throwing error, ground out. There wasn't even really a big blow.

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Posted on: May 13, 2011 6:24 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 7:14 pm
 

On Deck: Red Sox-Yankees battle


OD

By Evan Brunell

BEST MATCHUP: The first Red Sox-Yankees game in quite a while gets top billing, and it's a pretty decent matchup, too. Clay Buchholz, who has struggled against the Yankees in the past, will take the mound with a 4.19 ERA. Buchholz has struggled to retain the dominance that saw him post a sub-3.00 ERA last season, but he was pitching over his head anyways. He's fallen back to earth and needs to back off his reliance of pitching to contact to take a step forward. Meanwhile, ex-Red Sox pitcher Bartolo Colon, who left the team on a sour note when he refused to go to the bullpen in 2008, takes the mound with a rejuvenated right arm that had stem cells injected into it. Colon has an impressive 3.86 ERA after moving from the bullpen to replace Phil Hughes and will look to keep the good times rolling. Oh, and as the video above shows, David Ortiz is hoping the Yankees fans he hugged won't boo him during the weekend series. Red Sox at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET

VERLANDER-MEER? Justin Verlander will attempt to become the first pitcher since Johnny Vander Meer to throw consecutive no-hitters and will do so against a hot Kansas City team with Eric Hosmer fresh off two home runs in Yankee Stadium. Both team have 20 wins, with the Tigers adding an extra loss, so second place is at stake. Verlander will be opposed by Luke Hochevar, who still isn't delivering on his pedigree as a former No. 1 pick but is at the very least showing signs of progress and doesn't look like he'll flame out of baseball in a couple years anymore with a 4.91 mark. Royals at Tigers, 7:05 p.m. ET

FIRST AT STAKE:
 There's no love lost between the Cardinals and Reds, who meet for a pivotal three-game series this weekend. The Reds are 1 1/2 games behind St. Louis for first in the NL Central. Cincinnati has its work cut out for itself as the Cardinals have generally handled the Reds well over the last couple of years and are on a hot streak, winning five of the last seven games. Kyle Lohse, who has bounced back after a couple forgettable seasons after a strong contract year with St. Louis in 2008, will dance with Bronson Arroyo, who is continuing his impressive streak as a solid, durable pitcher. Cardinals at Reds, 7:10 p.m. ET

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Posted on: March 21, 2011 3:18 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2011 7:57 pm
 

Despite struggles, Hochevar named K.C. 'ace'

By Evan Brunell

HochevarThe Royals have announced their rotation, and it has Luke Hochevar at the top, slated for the opening day assignment as the Kansas City Star reveals. Following Hochevar is Jeff Francis, Kyle Davies, Bruce Chen and Vin Mazzaro, although Mazzaro will be held back as the club does not need a fifth starter until April 16. That will allow an extra relief pitcher to be carried and for K.C. to continue evaluating some bullpen pitchers on the bubble.

Hochevar has a career 5.60 ERA, so he's hardly worthy of the billing. It just goes to show you how dire the rotation is as they await arrivals of pitchers like Mike Montgomery, John Lamb and Jake Odorizzi, among others. 

While Hochevar did improve greatly on his career ERA by posting a 4.81 mark in 2010, that came in just 103 innings as he struggled with injury and posted a 3.2 BB/9 and 6.6 K/9. His advanced pitching metrics, such as FIP, are far more kind to Hochevar, with FIP giving Hochevar a 3.93 mark. The issue that plagues Hochevar the most comes with stranding baserunners, as league average hovers around 71 percent each year. Given that strand rate is influenced by factors largely out of the pitcher's control, it's been argued that a poor (or good) strand rate shouldn't be used to evaluate a pitcher's effectiveness.

However, Hochevar's strand rate hasn't cracked 65 percent in the three years of extended playing time he's had in the majors. In fact, that 65 percent happened in 2010, also the year he's posted his best ERA, FIP and xFIP numbers. That speaks to something particularly damaging Hochevar's ERA, such as a porous bullpen that constantly gives up inherited baserunners. That can't be the entire cause of it, however. 

Other factors that could come into play is the defense. As a groundball pitcher, Hochevar induces a ton of grounders which is good from a BABIP perspective, but bad when you have a poor defense behind you. That was certainly the case in Kansas City the last few years, especially when the disastrous Yuniesky Betancourt played short.

Another reason could be that Hochevar simply doesn't function well with baserunners on, whether mentally or from the stretch. Hochevar's K/9 rate dips from 7.02 pitching with no one on to 6.15 with men on base. His walk rate also spikes to 4.37 from 2.34, so it appears Hochevar struggles to pitch from the stretch.

There doesn't appear to be one specific smoking gun for Hochevar's problems with stranded runners, although one should point to his struggles pitching out of the stretch as a primary cause. If he can somehow arrest that issue, Hochevar could evolve into a solid back of the rotation starter. As it is, however, Hochevar would struggle to crack the rotation in a lot of cities, but in K.C. he happens to be the ace.

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Posted on: January 11, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: January 11, 2011 10:49 am
 

Royals searching for starters

Much to his dismay, it appears Royals general manager Dayton Moore has remembered he must field a team in 2011 -- one with hitters and pitchers.

Bruce Chen So far the Royals rotation is Vin Mazzaro, Luke Hochevar, Kyle Davies and Sean O'Sullivan. The team needs a fifth starter (or first or second or third or fourth, depending on how you look at it) for next season, but with an influx of talent due in Kansas City in 2012, Moore isn't looking to give out a multi-year deal to anyone.

Moore told MLB.com's Dick Kaegel that he's only looking at starting pitching at this point in the offseason. There's little on the free-agent market, but the team could bring back Bruce Chen.

"We're still open-minded with that," Moore told Kaegel. "He performed very well with us last year and showed us what he had, and we've got a comfort level there."

Chen, 33, went 12-7 with a 4.17 ERA in 23 starts for the Royals last season. Chen is a Scott Boras client and has apparently been eyeing a multi-year deal following his good 2010, but his status as a free agent shows that nobody is biting, even in a pitching-poor market.

Or Kansas City could look to trade, although it's unlikely the team would give up too much for a short-term solution.

"It's something that we'll continue to look at, and it might be Spring Training or early next year," Moore said. "You're always looking to get better, so it's not out of the question we might make some kind of move and pitching is one of those areas where you can never have enough depth. And we don't want to be in a position where we're force-feeding some of those kids, either."

Still, some of those kids -- Aaron Crow, John Lamb and Danny Duffy -- could get an extended look during spring training.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 4, 2010 4:19 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:32 pm
 

Bruce, O'Day among Super Twos

Brad Ziegler, the right-handed sidearmed reliever, is the lucky winner of the Super Two cutoff date this year with two years, 122 days of service time, according to the list sent to agents by the MLB Players Association. Super Two qualify for salary arbitration early.

The cutoff this season is lower than it has been in recent years, perhaps indicating that teams are getting more and more careful about how soon they bring up players in attempts to put off arbitration as long as possible.

Leading the list is Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria, who has already been signed to a long-term deal, a deal that's looking better and better by the day for the Rays.

Here's the list:

Jay Bruce Player 2009 Club Total Service
Evan Longoria Tampa Bay 2.170
Jim Johnson Baltimore 2.165
Felipe Paulino Houston 2.163
Josh Fields Kansas City 2.159
Kyle Kendrick Philadelphia 2.159
Sean White Seattle 2.156
Ian Stewart Colorado 2.154
Dana Eveland* Pittsburgh 2.152
Luke Hochevar Kansas City 2.151
Armando Galarraga Detroit 2.148
Burke Badenhop Florida 2.143
Ross Ohlendorf Pittsburgh 2.139
Chris Perez Cleveland 2.136
Alberto Gonzalez Washington 2.135
Jensen Lewis Cleveland 2.133
Darren O'Day Texas 2.128
Jay Bruce Cincinnati 2.125
Chase Headley San Diego 2.123
Travis Buck Oakland 2.123
Brad Ziegler Oakland 2.122
*outrighted

It appears that this is the best news for Bruce, O'Day and Perez, who will likely get the biggest bumps in salary from 2010 to 2011.

Of all those players, Bruce (pictured) may have had the best season, hitting .281/.353/.493 with 25 home runs. Perez recorded 23 saves and had a 1.71 ERA as the closer for the Indians once Kerry Wood was sent to the Yankees. O'Day was a valuable member of the Rangers' bullpen, appearing in 72 regular-season games and 11 postseason games. During the Regular season, he had a 2.03 ERA.

All three of those players made $440,000 or less last season.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: June 16, 2010 6:07 pm
 

Royals' Hochevar to DL

Royals right-handed starter Luke Hochevar, who sprained his elbow in his last start, was put on the disabled list Wednesday. The move was retroactive to June 12, and the Royals hope he'll miss only two starts.

Right-hander Anthony Lerew was brought up from triple-A Omaha and will start in Larew's spot Thursday against the Astros. Larew was 5-3 with a 2.84 ERA for Omaha. To make room for Larew on the 40-man roster, the Royals put left-hander John Parrish on release waivers.

Hochevar is 5-4 in 13 starts with a 4.96 ERA.

-- David Andriesen

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com