Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar (44) delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE
Luke Hochevar is having a weird season. He owns a 3.59 FIP, thanks to competent strikeout, walk, and homer rates, but everything that's out of his hands has been a mess. He's allowing nearly 10 hits per nine innings, and has the .342 batting average on balls in play to show for it.
You'd expect him to regress in a good way, closer to his FIP, but there's a lot of truth to be found in his 5.07 ERA. Hochevar typically has a BABIP much worse than the league average, and while part of that is certainly poor fielding behind him -- including 2012's awful KC squad -- he's to blame as well. Hochevar doesn't miss a ton of bats, and has had his problems with the long ball, despite pitching in a park that helps negate that (and especially so against the lefties who have historically given him trouble).
His recent performances have caused some owners out there to start to scoop him up off of waivers, in the hopes that he's moving closer to his FIP than his ERA going forward. To his credit, he's mostly looked great in the last month-plus, posting a 3.20 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 59 innings against 16 walks, while allowing just four homers. He hasn't allowed a run in his last two starts and 17-1/3 innings, either, and that's helped his ERA in the stretch immensely.
It's not easy to believe he's figured it out all of a sudden, though. He owned a 9.00 ERA following his first six starts, and gave up a .385 BABIP. While it's more than hyperbolic to believe that's who he is, either, given his career to this point, it's safe to assume the truth is somewhere between the terrible start and the recent success.
Now, that's not to say it's not worth keeping an eye on Hochevar going forward. But it's going to take more than nine starts to convince me that he's here and is useful, all at the same time, after six seasons and 102 starts of abuse. In AL-only leagues, he's likely owned, but if not, the risk is lessened there, given the need for starters of any shape or size. In mixed formats, though, there's plenty of time to take a wait-and-see approach: he's owned in just 24 percent of CBS leagues (an eight percent boost in the last week), ESPN refuses to acknowledge he exists (0.8 percent owned, plus 0.2 percent in the last week), and Yahoo! has him owned in just six percent.
Keep an eye on his game logs, and see if he can continue to string together success for a meaningful amount of time. Just don't waste time on him just yet, because the chances are still better that you'd be cutting him in a few weeks than they are that you just found yourself a shiny new toy.