Only Huff has seemed worthy of that status lately.
The Indians rookie will look to win his third straight start and help Cleveland avoid its fifth consecutive loss Saturday night against the visiting Royals, who will seek their season-high tying sixth straight win.
Kansas City took Hochevar with the first overall pick three years ago, ahead of All-Stars Evan Longoria(notes) and Tim Lincecum(notes)—the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner. The Royals’ right-hander, meanwhile, has struggled in his second full major league season.
Hochevar (6-9, 6.10 ERA) didn’t make the team coming out of spring training, but was called up May 11 from Triple-A Omaha and gave up eight runs in two innings the following night. He bounced between the minors and majors before solidifying his spot in the rotation by going 6-1 with a 3.66 ERA in nine outings from June 6 and July 25, when he defeated Texas.
In nine starts since then, though, Hochevar has dropped six straight decisions - the longest active skid in the AL - while posting an 8.12 ERA. He gave up seven runs and nine hits in 3 2-3 innings Sunday in a 7-2 loss to visiting Los Angeles.
Huff, a supplemental first-round selection and the 39th overall pick in 2006, started the year in the minors and was called up from Triple-A Columbus six days after Hochevar.
Huff will also try for his fifth victory in six outings against a team he beat a little more than two weeks ago. The left-hander won a matchup against Hochevar by allowing two runs over six innings in a 4-2 victory in Kansas City on Aug. 26.
Hochevar gave up four runs over 6 1-3 innings and dropped to 1-3 with a 4.87 ERA in four starts against the Indians. He dropped back-to-back starts following that defeat.
Huff, meanwhile, yielded one run and two hits over seven innings in a 3-1 home win over Minnesota on Sunday.
“I’m in uncharted territory,” Huff said. “A year ago, my season finished Sept. 1. I’m not physically tired. Mentally, I’m trying to get through it.”
The Indians (60-80) haven’t won since then on their nine-game homestand and have dropped nine of 11 overall.
Kansas City, meanwhile, will try to continue its surge. After scoring 25 runs in its previous four victories, the Royals needed Miguel Olivo’s(notes) solo homer in the 12th inning for a 2-1 win Friday.
Kansas City (56-85) had seven hits to snap a streak of five straight games with 10 or more.
The Indians are 9-7 against the Royals in 2009, and need to win one of this weekend’s final two games to capture the season series for the sixth straight year.