The biggest two of the candidates for the Kansas City Royals‘ fifth starter position, Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar, both pitched on Sunday, as is the way manager Ned Yost has been scheduling the matter. Although the skipper has kept quiet on the matter, it is hard to avoid the sensation that up to this point Chen has been winning the battle, but Hochevar has been doing enough still to be in front due to the relative preference for him to be a starter. One would certainly have difficulty in saying that Hochevar has pitched really well this spring, but nor had he really given Chen an opening until Sunday.
Hochevar did really struggle against the Los Angeles Angels, however. He gave up four runs in only three and a third innings of work and had to come out of the game sooner than the planned four innings. But Chen actually pitched even worse. He also failed to go his intended four innings and he conceded five runs in three and two thirds innings of work. It looked like today might have been the day when someone really grabbed a lead in the battle for the spot, but instead we are about where we started.
Both Chen and Hochevar will have several more opportunities ahead of Opening Day on the first of April and there is no indication that Yost will make a decision more than a few days ahead of time (and nor should he). The longer they remain closely fought, however, the more Hochevar likely benefits. Chen needs to capitalise on any errors by Hochevar and although he was handed one today, he fluffed his chance. It may cost him.