Despite sporting a 7-13 record and a 5.36 ERA, Luke Hochevar got a vote of confidence from the Royals’ organization earlier this month. He’s responded in classic Hochevarian fashion; he gave up 22 runs over 24 innings in his last four starts.
Hochevar’s season officially ended during the Indians’ 10-run fifth inning on Sunday. Hochevar didn’t give up all of the runs, but he was charged with nine in 4 2/3 innings, taking his ERA up to 5.73. It’s not the worst ERA in the majors — Ricky Romero came in at 5.76 — but considering that Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium plays as a pitcher’s park, he rates as the AL’s least effective starter this year.
By Baseball-Reference’s ERA+. Hochevar’s season could end up rating the worst of any qualified starter since 2008. Tim Lincecum’s 2012 is actually worse right now (he’s at 68, the third worst mark since 2000), but the San Francisco park factor will likely be revised to something less extreme later on. Also, as rough as Lincecum’s season has been, he’s allowed just three unearned runs. Hochevar has allowed nine. Romero gave up six.
At least Hochevar can take solace that his season doesn’t rate as the worst in Royals’ history. The late Jose Lima went 5-16 with a 6.99 ERA in 32 starts for Kansas City in 2005.
Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.
Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list
Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.
Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.
Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).
While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.