Royals announce Luke Hochevar and his 5.60 career ERA as Opening Day starter

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Kansas City announced its rotation and as expected Luke Hochevar will get the Opening Day start against the Angels despite a 5.60 career ERA that includes a 4.81 mark in 18 outings last year.

Of course, the Royals being the Royals they don’t really have any clearly better options.

Jeff Francis, Kyle Davies, and Bruce Chen will follow Hochevar in the rotation and Vin Mazzaro has won the final spot, but he’ll begin the season at Triple-A because the Royals won’t need a fifth starter for a couple weeks.

If healthy Francis is a pretty good bet to emerge as the Royals’ best starter this season, but that isn’t really saying much. Starting a guy with a 5.60 ERA on Opening Day and it not being a particularly crazy decision is a big part of why the Royals are very capable of losing 95-plus games for a fourth straight season. Their lineup has a chance to be pretty decent, but the pitching staff is going to be ugly.

Max Fried loses to Braves in salary arbitration

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitcher Max Fried lost to the Atlanta Braves in salary arbitration and will make $13.5 million in the upcoming season instead of his $15 million request.

Mark Burstein, Fredric Horowitz and Jeanne Vonhof issued their decision a day after hearing arguments.

Fried won a $6.85 million salary last year in arbitration instead of the team’s $6.6 million proposal.

He followed former Atlanta teammate Dansby Swanson in going to a hearing in consecutive years. Swanson, a shortstop, lost in 2021 and won last year, then signed a seven-year, $177 million contract with the Chicago Cubs.

The last player to win hearings in consecutive years was pitcher Trevor Bauer against Cleveland in 2018 and 2019.

Fried, a 29-year-old left-hander, went 14-7 for the second straight season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 from 3.04 in 2021. Fried was a first-time All-Star last season, was second to Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in Cy Young Award voting and was third in the National League in ERA behind Alcantara and Julio Urias with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In 2021, Fried pitched six shutout innings in World Series Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995.