Bad news for Royals fans. And for Luke Hochevar, of course:
Hochevar, the 30-year-old former No. 1 overall pick, felt a twinge in his elbow on Monday. On Tuesday, he felt soreness in the joint, and an MRI revealed his condition, which also includes strained muscles around the elbow. On Thursday, he was scheduled to meet with Neal ElAttrache, the Dodgers’ team physician, in Los Angeles.
That meeting happened and Ned Yost announced this morning that Hochevar will have Tommy John surgery. Given that Hochevar is eligible for free agency this fall, it’s quite possible he’s pitched for the Royals for the last time.
Hochevar was a disappointment as a starter for years, but last season he moved to the pen and tossed 70 innings with a 1.92 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio. If he had repeated that this year he had a big payday in his future.
As it is, someone will likely take a chance on him, as he will likely pitch most of 2015. And given that, as we’ve reflected upon so much for the past 24 hours, a torn ligament is no longer a death sentence for a pitcher.
Phil Hughes was officially designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday, the culmination of multiple injury-plagued seasons and poor performance.
Things couldn’t have started out much better for Hughes in Minnesota. The former Yankees hurler joined the Twins on a three-year, $24 million contract in December of 2013 and reeled off a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts during his first season with the club. He set the MLB record (which still stands, by the way) for single season strikeout-to-walk ratio and even received some downballot Cy Young Award consideration. The big year resulted in the two sides ripping up their previous agreement with a new five-year, $58 million deal, but it was all downhill after that.
Hughes took a step back with a 4.40 ERA in 2015 and struggled with a 5.95 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance in 2016 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He wasn’t any better upon his return last year, putting up a 5.87 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Hughes missed time with a biceps issue and required a thoracic outlet revision surgery in August. He began this year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, only to put up a 6.75 ERA over two starts and five relief appearances before the Twins decided to turn the page this week.
Hughes is still owed the remainder of his $13.2 million salary for this year and another $13.2 million next year. The deal didn’t work out as anyone would have hoped, but unfortunately this is another case of health just not cooperating.