I'm still a believer in his talent and even though he had a 4.81 ERA last season it seemed to me that he pitched better than his ERA indicated. And he did. True he gave up 55 earned runs in 103 innings but 17 of those runs came in just 4 innings. This is one of the flaws with ERA and why it should never be considered the be all and end all judge of a pitchers performance. A bad start or two can seriously overshadow several good ones.
His ERA drops to an impressive 3.45 if those 4 catastrophe's could be somehow stricken from the record. Of course they can't but they represent well one of Hochevar's weaknesses, the big inning. Consistency is also an issue, and covered well here by Clark Fosler, but I think that goes hand in hand with limiting big innings. Solve one issue and he likely solves the other. In fact if he had held opponents to just 2 runs each in those 4 innings his ERA drops to 4.02, and I think there's something to that because his ERA was 4.05 in his last 10 appearances and the most runs he gave up in any inning during that 60 inning stretch was 2. It's hard to say if he's already figured it out because 60 innings isn't much of a sample size and they surrounded his lengthy DL stay. It is worth noting though that he held the opposition to a .296 babip during that time so luck either way can be ruled out.
Hochevar is the ace by default this season, partly because he has the stuff for it but mostly because of his draft status. How he handles the pressure of being a #1 will be interesting to watch, will he rise to the occasion or will he fold? ZiPS and Bill James have him moderately improving this season but are unimpressed overall.
Like with Gordon I tend to be overly optimistic when it comes to Hochevar, I figure eventually he'll reward my faith in him or he'll be released and I'll no longer care. I suspect 2011 represents his last stand as a starting pitcher in Kansas City. Another underwhelming season and he'll likely be in the bullpen next year where I believe he could shine (overly optimistic, remember?) but I don't believe it's going to come to that, I think he'll pitch well this year and put up an ERA+ in the 110 range. I have nothing really to base that on except a gut feeling, which just so happens to be the same gut feeling that thought he'd put up a 110 ERA+ last year, so there's that.