Has Luke Hochevar Finally Figured It Out?

Luke Hochevar and Salvador Perez celebrate after Hochevar’s complete game shutout Monday night against the Rays. Photo Credit: John Sleezer / The Kansas City Star

Maybe.

But that’s an old question.

As Royals fans, we’ve all been here before. You know what I’m talking about – Good Luke, Bad Luke, and Awful-Goodfornothing Luke. He’s a polarizing figure, really. We’ve seen stretches, usually three or four starts, where Hoch just absolutely stinks. He’ll lose command of his breaking pitches, his fastball will get straight, and the opposing team gap-doubles him into a pulp.

And then we see stretches where Hoch just has everything figured out. His two-seamer will bite in and out of the zone and his curveball falls off the table – allowing him to work his secondary pitches in there with ease. That’s when Luke is really dominant.

For right now, Hochevar is currently in his dominant stretch.

Last night, Luke and the Royals’ defense completely shutdown the Rays lineup. It was his fourth career complete game and his second career shutout. Luke was able to get the Rays to scatter seven singles throughout the night, and only got into one sticky situation when the Rays got two-straight singles to leadoff their half of the 5th inning. Hoch countered by striking out the next three hitters, which happened to be the top of the Rays’ lineup, to end the threat and the inning.

In has last three starts, he’s 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA and has 19 K’s to just 6 BB.

  • 6/14: Milwaukee: 7.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R (3 ER), 5 K’s, 1 BB, 11 Groundballs, 87 pitches (ND)
  • 6/19: @Houston: 7.2 IP, 5H, 0 R (0 ER), 6 K’s, 4 BB, 11 Groundballs, 93 pitches (W)
  • 6/25: Tampa Bay: 9.0 IP, 7 H. 0 R (0 ER), 8 K’s, 1 BB, 11 Groundballs, 113 pitches (W)

In these three starts, Luke was nothing short of dominating. He saw his W-L record improve from 3-7 to 5-7 and his ERA drop from 6.57 to 5.07 (still not great, but encouraging).

One thing to keep in mind: the lineups Luke has gone up against during this red-hot three-game stretch aren’t exactly Murderer’s Row. Milwaukee (23rd), Houston (19th), and Tampa Bay (27th) all rank in the bottom half of baseball in batting average. Not to take anything away from him, but it needs to be known.

I’m ecstatic for Luke and the Royals, but until Hochevar proves to me that this is for real and that he’s finally figured out how to be an effective starting pitcher, I’ll take this hot streak with a grain of salt.

Keep it up, Luke.

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