Cool Hand Luke
Last week we took a look at 23 year-old lefty Danny Duffy, and his prospects for a breakout season in 2012. The article was filled with optimism and antidotes that suggested Duffy may be ready to burst onto the scene for the Kansas City Royals. After his first outing in Spring Training, I was tempted to expand on those thoughts and the meaning of such an impressive start until I read this Rany Jazayerli piece. I think it’s fair to say that most of us are now excited by Duffy’s future, and the future is 2012. That did set me on a different path though, wondering if there were any others on the Royals staff poised for a breakout year. If you read this, then you probably know who I’m referring to; Cool Hand Luke.
For a guy with a career ERA north of 5 Luke Hochevar has a career highlight reel that would make just about any 5th year player proud:
- May 14, 2008 In just his 6th career start, Hochevar throws 6 shutout innings, striking out 5 and allowing just 4 hits.
- June 12, 2009 Hochevar holds the Cincinnati Reds to just 3 hits and 1 run in first career complete game. More impressive, he completes the feat in just 80 pitches.
- July 25, 2009 Hochevar strikes out 13 and walks 0 in 7 innings of work against the powerful Texas Rangers.
- September 18, 2009 Hochevar throws his first shutout against the Chicago White Sox. He strikes out 5 and allows only 4 base runners in the game.
- April 7, 2010 In 7 2/3 innings against the Detroit Tigers Hochevar allows 5 hits, 1 BB, and zero runs.
- May 19., 2011 Facing the eventual American League Champions Hochevar nearly goes the distance. In the end he delivers 8 2/3 inning of 1-run baseball on a night when the Royals win 2-1.
- September 3, 2011 Hochevar ended 2011 on a hot streak, but none of his performances down the stretch were better than this one against the Indians; 8 innings, 8 Ks, 1 BB and no runs.
What’s most astonishing to me, is that there are no trends represented in the data above. It’s not like he dominates early in the year and then wears down. It also isn’t a case where Hochevar just needs a few months to warm up this year. He has, over the course of 4 years, spread in completely random order a very impressive compilation of starts. Of course, the rest of the time he’s been pretty terrible. What does this mean? If anyone had the answer to that it would probably be fixed by now but at 28 years old there is still reason to believe that Hochevar could put it all together for a very dominant 2012.