Hochevar had been competing with Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza for the final spot in the starting rotation along with James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana and Wade Davis. Now the battle is between Chen and Mendoza. Chen has been steady for the Royals, and has the most wins of any pitcher with the organization over the past three years. Despite Chen’s consistency, Mendoza has to be the favorite. After a rocky start to last season, Mendoza has pitched very well and could be due for a big season.
Hochevar has baffled Kansas City fans with his inconsistency – at times he looks like a dominant starter, other times he looks like he doesn’t belong in the major leagues. Unfortunately, the bad has outweighed the good in his career, and the former top pick has a 5.39 ERA and a 38-59 record in 132 career starts.
While Mendoza and Chen are the front-runners to win the fifth starter’s spot, Will Smith has emerged as a dark horse candidate. Smith has a 1.29 ERA so far this spring and could be a potential starter down the road for Kansas City.
The emergence of Smith may lead to Kansas City considering trading Hochevar, as Kansas City already has a loaded bullpen. Greg Holland’s job as the closer and Kelvin Herrera’s position as his setup man are locks, and the Royals also have Aaron Crow, Tim Collins, Nate Adcock and Louis Coleman as relief pitchers. The loser of the Chen and Mendoza battle could also be used in relief, and it appears there isn’t much room for Hochevar. Don’t be surprised if the Royals try to shop Hochevar over the next couple of weeks.
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