The Royals remain deluded in their hopes for Luke Hochevar

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Luke Hochevar has made $3.1 million while going 7-13 with a 5.36 ERA in 28 starts this season. One would think that increasing salary combined with his worst performance since 2009 would finally result in his departure at season’s end. However, GM Dayton Moore said the Royals have no intention of non-tendering Hochevar this winter.

The Royals still seem convinced that there’s a good pitcher lurking somewhere inside Hochevar’s body just waiting to bust out. Sure, he turns 29 this week and he has a career record of 37-56 with a 5.30 ERA, but he still throws pretty hard.

“His numbers are not spectacular by any stretch of the imagination,” manager Ned Yost told the Kansas City Star, “but I’ve seen many pitchers go through what he’s gone through. Actually, he’s better than most of those guys.”

Better than what guys? Yost listed Jorge De La Rosa, Jason Schmidt and Kevin Millwood as starters who struggled for a long time before figuring it out. However, Hochevar has nothing on that trio.

Hochevar: 80 ERA+ in 124 career starts
De La Rosa: 83 ERA+ in first 59 starts, now 95 ERA+ in 126 career starts
Schmidt: 97 ERA+ in first 128 career starts
Millwood: 114 ERA+ in first 126 career starts

No, Hochevar has very little common in those guys. I can only find one guy in the last 50 years who had a six-year start similar to Hochevar’s and went on to to become a really good pitcher. That’s Mike Scott, who found a splitter and won a Cy Young Award with the Astros in 1986. He had a 78 ERA+ through six years.

Ryan Dempster is also worth mentioning; he had an 85 ERA+ in his first six seasons before hurting his arm, turning to relief and eventually becoming a quality starter. Dempster, though, had already had one big season at age 23. Hochevar has never had a year in which he’s been an average starter.

There’s also Jamie Moyer with an 87+ ERA through six years, but I don’t see Hochevar going that route.

The point is that the odds are very much against Hochevar at this point, and though I don’t necessarily disagree that he still has some upside remaining, the Royals would likely be better off on spending their $4 million on someone else next year.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.