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Thinking About Luke Hochevar

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A quick take on Luke Hochevar.

Last year Hochevar went 4-9, 4.86 with a 138/47 K/BB in 152 innings between Double-A Wichita and Triple-A Omaha, allowing 163 hits and a 0.88 GO/AO ratio. Scouts reported stuff that was consistently above average or plus, though the results did not always match the talent. He gave up 24 homers and seemed quite vulnerable to the gopher ball, elevating too many pitches especially when behind in the count.

For the Royals this year he is 5-6, 4.91 with a 50/39 K/BB in 84.1 innings, with 88 hits allowed. There is some typical deterioration you see in components as a player moves up a level, but of interest is a sharp difference in his GO/AO marks...1.74 this year in the majors. He's given up eight homers, a far cry from his home run pace last year. The numbers confirm the scouting reports and what I see on TV: he's doing a much better job keeping the ball down this year.

He still has some work to do, lowering his walk rate and improving his consistency and command within the strike zone. Left-handed hitters chew him up (.332/.394/.527) and he needs another weapon and/or sharper command against them. He throttles right-handed hitters effectively at .223/.309/.312. Month-to-month performance can be somewhat misleading given the sample sizes involved, but he has gotten better as the season progressed, lowering his ERAs (5.91, 4.71, 4.02 April through June) with gradual improvement in the components, a lower walk rate in June being notable.

In short, Hochevar is coming along. He's not a terrific pitcher yet, but he is making progress. I can see him easily developing into a solid number three, inning-eating ground ball getter. If he sharpens his command and boosts his strikeout rate, he could be a number two guy.