Luke Hochevar Meets Tommy John

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Tommy John has struck again. This time the famed surgery has claimed Kansas City Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar, as he will miss the entire 2014 season. It’s amazing to think this way, but this is actually a blow to the Royals, as Hochevar was an important part of the teams success in 2013 and looked to continue that this year. It seems weird to say that, since Hochevar for years was an unreliable starter who put up some of the worst numbers in baseball history. The Royals were contemplating giving Hoch another run in the rotation this year as the fifth starter, but obviously those plans have now changed. So where are the Royals at now without Luke Hochevar?

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For one, the fifth starters job is now down to two. Brad Penny was released earlier this week and Wade Davis has been officially moved to the bullpen. That leaves the competition to young flamethrower Yordano Ventura and Twitter’s favorite son Danny Duffy. In my eyes this is the best thing for the future of this team, as Penny seemed like a long-shot and Davis failed miserably last year at the back of the Royals rotation. As much as I love Ventura(and think in the long run he will be a top of the rotation starter), it might be best to start out the year with Duffy at the back end of the rotation. This saves some of Ventura’s service time(June seems like a good guess as to when he would join Kansas City, barring an injury) and allows Duffy some time to prove he can be the pitcher that many feel he is capable of being. So far in his young career, Duffy has been hit with a mixture of injuries and lack of control.  But at times Duffy has looked electric with a fastball that can reach the high 90’s and a curveball that is close to being a 12-to-6 downer with varying speeds. His change up is also above average, so Duffy has all the makings to be a number 2 or 3 starter…if he can learn some control. The biggest obstacle he has faced so far(outside of injuries) is a lack of control that makes it hard for him to go much past 5 innings in any of his starts. If Duffy can learn to be more efficient and avoid the injury bug, it’s conceivable that both him and Ventura could be in the Royals rotation by the end of the year.

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Hochevar’s injury also forced Wade Davis to the Royals bullpen, which is also a major plus for Kansas City. Manager Ned Yost felt that with Hoch out, the Royals needed more of a veteran presence in the pen. Insert Davis, a pitcher who over his career has been a questionable starter(at best) and a solid reliever. Davis was a starter in 2010-2011 for Tampa Bay and last year for Kansas City. 2012 was spent out of the pen. Compare:

Wade Davis Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com: Standard Pitching

His numbers in relief are very solid, especially his strike out rate(jumping to 11.1 in 2012) and his ERA+(a full 63 points higher than his best season in the rotation). Davis could easily slide into Hochevar’s 2013 role and put up very similar numbers, while also elevating his value(as the Royals hold his option for the 2015 season). The Royals really wanted Davis to be a starter when he was acquired, but it appears he is better suited for the pen, especially if the team is serious about contending.

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The last way in which Hochevar’s injury affects the Royals is that it opens up another spot in the bullpen. Right now six pitchers seem a lock for the pen: Greg Holland, Tim Collins, Aaron Crow, Kelvin Herrera, Davis and Louis Coleman. That leaves a spot for either a lefty(Franciscley Bueno, Donnie Joseph), a long reliever(Everett Teaford, P.J. Walters) or the pitcher that loses out in the fifth starter spot. With the Royals talking about Davis being a 2 inning reliever, that lessens the need for a long reliever. Kansas City GM Dayton Moore would prefer that the loser of the starters spot go to AAA Omaha,  as the club wants insurance in case a starter suffers an injury. That would leave a battle between lefties Bueno and Joseph. Bueno is coming off of a rough outing yesterday against Milwaukee, one in which he looked very hittable while Joseph has yet to give up a run this spring. Joseph meanwhile is younger and is more of a strikeout pitcher(he has a career 12.3 SO/9 in the minors) although his walk rate is high as well(4.5 BB/9 in the minors). The Royals have used Bueno over the past couple seasons and seem to like his ability to get lefties out. Either could make the team and there is a good chance both will see time with Kansas City at some point this season.

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I’ve never been a big fan of Luke Hochevar but he was a major part of the Royals bullpen last year and seemed to have breathed life into a flailing career. It’s unfortunate that as he seemed to have turned a corner(thanks for that, Ned) he is now out for 2014 and his career is now in question going forward. Hoch’s injury has given us an even better view of what the Royals Opening Day roster is going to look like. As valuable as Hochevar has become, he seemed overpriced(he is scheduled to make $5.21 million this year) for someone coming out of the bullpen. Moore has said they would like to bring Hochevar back in the future, but at this point it is possible we have seen the last of Luke in a Royals uniform. The Royals were lucky and weren’t really hit with any major injuries last year. Hopefully this is the last of them for this year.

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FLASHBACK: Fake Royals Predictions 2012

Author’s Note: The Flashback articles on here I originally wrote for the website royalsbaseball.net. That website has now become defunct, so I thought I would move them over here to Bleeding Royal Blue. I’d like to thank Joel Matheny for giving me the opportunity to write for his website, even if it was for just a few months. So enjoy, and go Royals!

hosWith the 2012 Kansas City Royals season less than a week away, I normally take this time to put forth my predictions for the upcoming season. The thing is, I kind of have with a lot of my articles as of late. So, I thought it would be fun today to take a look at ‘Fake Predictions’ for this Royals ball club. These are all just jokes, and it’s supposed to be a fun way of looking forward to opening day. So enjoy, and please, try not to take this too seriously!

foxworthy_yostNed Yost will decide mid-season to shake things up and make Jeff Foxworthy his new bench coach. When that doesn’t work, he will go on sabbatical…which is code for ‘spending his time fishing and hunting.’
Chris Getz’s new stance will pay dividends, as 3/4 of his hits this season will be extra base hits.

ellie_rodriguez With Salvador Perez out with an injury, the team looks into cloning him. Unfortunately, the team sends in the wrong DNA, and instead the Royals get a clone of former Catcher Ellie Rodriguez.

hiram After a few pitching injuries early in the season, GM Dayton Moore finds Kyle Davies in the backwoods of Georgia, and signs him to a minor league contract. He now wants to be known by his given name, Hiram.
With Royals infielder Yuniesky Betancourt having trouble with his range, the team buys him a segue-way to make it easier for him to get to grounders balls to the left and right of him.

mooseAfter a slow start, Mike Moustakas will go on a tear. Even more interesting, Moustakas will end up stealing 30 bases, as he finds cutting his hair gives him extra speed.
Bruce Chen continues to frustrate White Sox managers, as the team’s new skipper Robin Ventura goes on a expletive laden tirade that would make Ozzie Guillen proud.

gio Johnny Giavotella will return to the ball club during the season, but when he shows up to the ballpark, he is told he isn’t ‘tall enough for the rides’.

teafordRoyals fans beg for the flames normally used for Joakim Soria’s entrance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same affect when Everett Teaford enters the game.
Eric Hosmer has a superb season, enough so that he ends up as a spokesman for Loreal hair products.
Alcides  Escobar is praised for his defense, but even more so when he makes a play near the third base line, throwing out the runner – Who happens to be Bengie Molina.

rex-french7Rex Hudler will make most of the Royals fanbase mute their Tv’s and force them to listen to the radio while watching a Royals game.
Royals Owner David Glass will show up for two dozens game this season, instead of his usual dozen.

sluggerWhen Sluggger is forced to throw hot dogs instead of shooting them, the team finds out that he has a really good arm. Sluggger is then signed to a contract and sent to AAA Omaha.
Tim Collins develops a growth spurt and ends the year 5′ 10”.
Billy Butler gets off to a bad start. With the extra pressure on him, Billy Loses 20 lbs in a month.
Luis Mendoza continues his excellent pitching, winning close to 20 games and turning out to be the ace of the staff.
Royals fans everywhere are glad Kevin Kouzmanoff doesn’t make the team, as many were afraid they would have to either pronounce his last name or spell it. Instead they are stuck trying to figure out how to pronounce ‘Bourgeois’.
Mid-season, the team wants some new blood, so they go out before the deadline and acquire Miguel Olivo and Willie Bloomquist, saying they are ‘just want this team was missing’.
Hitting Coach Kevin Seitzer proves he is a man of magic, turning Yuniesky Betancourt and Humberto Quintero into walking machines, as the two are near the top of the league in walks.

penaBrayan Pena will be cut once Sal Perez comes back. Because he loves the team so much, he will stay and take over Sluggger’s job.
Jose Mijares will realize a game moves faster when he doesn’t step off it after every pitch, and becomes what baseball experts call a ‘fast worker’.

jonathan-broxton-royals-pantsJonathan Broxton will arrange a contest to see if he can get 3 of his teammates to wear his pants all at once.
Mitch Maier starts more than once a month this season.

play_francouer_sy_576Jeff Francoeur will prove how fan friendly he is, as he will spend half an inning hanging in the ‘French Quarter’.
Sean O’Sullivan will pitch so good that I will quit calling him by the nickname I gave him.
A fan won’t wear a $200 All-Star game jersey to a game and still not know the basics of baseball.
The first place Royals fans will flock to read incite on the team will be in the comments section of Facebook.

relishand finally, I will root for relish this year for the first team in the classic Mustard, Ketchup and Relish race.

Enjoy the 2012 Royals season everyone! Now let’s talk some baseball!

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