Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
Chances seem remote it was not foremost on his mind during the Kansas City Royals’ climactic World Series victory Sunday night, but winning pitcher Luke Hochevar nevertheless brought more prestige to the American Association because the first line on his professional pitching resume will always detail the results of those first four games he pitched for the Fort Worth Cats in 2006.
It reads something like this: four starts, 1-1 record, 2.38 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 22.2 innings.
Hochevar became the No. 1 draft choice in the nation that summer, spent much of the next season pitching in current American Association city Wichita (when it had a Double-A franchise) and capped off a season-long 2015 comeback from elbow surgery by limiting the New York Mets to a single walk in hurling scoreless 10th and 11th innings in the tense Game 5, won 7-2 when the Royals erupted in the next inning.
“I am just overwhelmed,” the 32-year-old right-hander told onetime Royals closer Jeff Montgomery in a postgame interview on FoxSportsKansasCity.
Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera and closer Wade Davis combined to allow only one earned run in 34 innings during Kansas City’s run through the playoffs and World Series. Hochevar was 2-0, did not give up a run in 10.2 innings in nine appearances, and held opposing hitters to a .162 average.
“I’m (most) thankful for my health,” the onetime University of Tennessee starter continually pointed out during the postseason including another postgame interview on MLB.com, while holding his young daughter. It was understandable since the Tommy John surgery limited him to a spectator role one year ago when the Royals got as far as Game 7 of the World Series.
Previously the chief spokesman for Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003. He is a frequent contributor to this site.