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.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.
Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.
Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.
Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.
Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.
Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.
Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.