KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 25: Luke Hochevar #44 of the Kansas City Royals warms up against the Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium on June 25, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Is Luke Hochevar finally turning the corner or have the Kansas City Royals just been fortunate to enjoy three good starts in a row?
With Luke Hochevar's recent mild level of success, the easy way out would be asking if Luke Hochevar has finally turned the corner. It's not a question of if the stuff is there, but which Hochevar will show up on any given night. The stuff has always been there, somewhere, but the inconsistency is often there as well.
Monday evening Luke posted one of his best career starts, going the whole nine innings and needing just a modest 113 pitches as the Royals routed (it feels so good to type that) the Rays 8-0. 73 of Hochevar's 113 pitches went for strikes and he walked just one while striking out eight.
For the 6'5" right-hander it tied his highest strike-out performance of the season as he lowered his season ERA to 5.07, an ERA that hasn't been below five since April 25th.
Going back to the other game in which he posted eight strikeouts, it was a 3-2 loss to the New York Yankees in which Hochevar threw 68 of 115 pitches for strikes. Those numbers were very similar to Monday evening, however in that prior outing he lasted just 6 and 2/3 innings.
If I did my math correctly, Hochevar's game score for Monday evening was 80, with his season high previously being 75. The last time he topped it was September 3rd of last season against the Cleveland Indians when he went eight innings and also struck out eight while allowing one walk. The difference in that game was he only allowed three hits.
So as you can see, Hochevar has always had the stuff, it's just we don't know on any given night if the team will receive his top stuff or not.
The true positive is it seems as of lately we are getting closer, as his last three games scores have been 58 or higher, with the last two being 71 and 80. The last time Hochevar posted three consecutive game scores of 58 or better was July 28 through August 8th of last year. And this is the first time he has ever posted consecutive game scores of 70 or better.
Has he changed? Too early to say, but enjoy the positive results while they are there.