Luke Hochevar was born in Denver, Colorado, raised in Wiley, Colorado, and later moved to Fowler, Colorado, with parents Brian and Carmen Hochevar along with one brother and one sister. His father was a college basketball player at the University of Southern Colorado (now CSU-Pueblo) who had an unsuccessful tryout with the Denver Nuggets and who later turned to coaching, including serving as Luke's baseball coach at Fowler High School. While at Fowler High, Hochevar was named Colorado Division 2A Player of the Year his senior year and was a three-time all-state selection. He was a multi-sport athlete, earning all-state honors in basketball. Hochevar excelled in the classroom as well, and was named an academic all-state four consecutive years.
Hochevar was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 39th round (1,191st overall) of the 2002 MLB amateur entry draft but chose to attend college at the University of Tennessee instead. Hochevar was used primarily as a relief pitcher during his freshman year for the Volunteers, striking out 73 batters and walking 24 in 77 innings of work. His sophomore season was injury plagued for Hochevar; he missed a total of eight weeks playing time. However, he was good enough to be selected for the USA Baseball National Team, earning the victory in the FISU II World University Baseball Championship against Japan. Hochever bounced back as a junior, striking out a school record 154 batters, posting a 15-3 record, and 2.26 ERA for the season. For his efforts he was named the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year and won the Roger Clemens Award.
The Dodgers would select Hochevar again, this time in the first round (40th overall) of the 2005 draft. After initial negotiations with the Dodgers, Hochevar, and his agent Scott Boras, Hochevar suddenly switched agents to Matt Sosnick and accepted a $2.98 million signing bonus from scouting director Logan White. However, the next day Hochevar changed his mind on switching agents, returning to Boras and reneging on the deal. Several months of lukewarm talks continued with Hochevar pitching for the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball's Fort Worth Cats (where he struck out 34 batters in 22.2 innings), but amidst much bitterness, the two sides never came close to reaching a new agreement.
He entered the draft yet again in 2006 and was selected first overall by the Kansas City Royals. On August 3, nearly two months after the draft, Hochevar signed a four-year major league contract worth $5.3 million guaranteed with the Royals. He received a $3.5 million signing bonus with the ability to earn as much as $7 million over the four years.
Hochevar made his major league debut September 8, 2007 in a game against the New York Yankees. In four appearances, Hochevar had a 0-1 record and a 2.13 ERA.
In 2008, he had the lowest run support of all pitchers, with an average of 2.8 runs per game started, finishing with a record of 6-12. His ERA though, was a high one, finishing at 5.51 in 22 starts.
Following the Royals' 2009 spring training camp, he was optioned to the Triple-A Omaha Royals to learn to "use both sides of the plate with more consistency" and to stay away from big innings. He was called up to the Royals starting rotation on May 10.
In his 2009 debut, Hochevar lasted just two innings and surrendered eight runs. On June 12, 2009, Hochevar pitched an 80 pitch complete game, only allowing 3 hits and 1 run; this was a feat that had only been accomplished by 5 pitchers in American League the previous 20 years. On July 25, 2009, Hochevar recorded a career high 13 strikeouts in 7 innings in a 6-3 win over the Texas Rangers. On September 18, 2009, Hochevar threw his first career shutout in an 11–0 win over the Chicago White Sox.
Despite these accomplishments, Hochevar struggled with his consistency through the '09 season, posting the highest ERA of AL starters (6.55) while going 7-13.
In his first start of the year on April 7, 2010, Hochevar threw 7 2⁄3 scoreless innings in a 3-2 win in 11 innings over the Detroit Tigers. Through June 2010, Hochevar was 5-4 with a 4.96 ERA. He was on the Disabled List with a right elbow strain from mid-June until September. He finished the year at 6-6 with a 4.81 ERA.
Hochevar was the Royals' opening day starter in 2011. At the All-Star break, he had a win-loss record of 5-8 with a 5.46 ERA. He fared significantly better after the break, ending the season with an 11-11 record and a 4.68 ERA. Also notable was his 1.28 WHIP.
Hochevar's strong finish in 2011 suggested that he might emerge as a top-quality starting pitcher in 2012. Instead, he experienced a disappointing season, finishing with an 8-16 record and a 5.73 ERA. He allowed more earned runs than any other major league pitcher, and his -1.7 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was the worst of his career.
On January 15, 2013 Hochevar filed for salary arbitration, the only Royals player to do so in the off-season, and the second year in a row that he has done so. In 2012, he and the team settled on a $3.51 million one-year deal. The Royals announced on January 18, 2013 that they had reached agreement with Hochevar on a one-year contract worth $4.56 million, thus avoiding arbitration.
On March 13, 2013. Royals manager Ned Yost announced that Hochevar would not begin the season in the starting rotation. Hochevar was instead assigned to the bullpen for middle relief duties. In that role, he performed effectively for the Royals, posting a 1.92 ERA in 70.1 innings. He also struck out 82 batters while walking only 17.
During a Spring Training game against the White Sox on March 3, 2014, Hochevar suffered an elbow injury and left the game. An MRI the following day tested positive that there was a major tear of the UCL in the right elbow. On March 7, 2014 Royals officials confirmed the injury and stated Hochevar would be undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair the damage. The surgery caused Hochevar to miss the entire 2014 season.
On December 3, 2014, Hochevar signed a 2-year, $10 million agreement with the Kansas City Royals. He made 49 appearances in the 2015 season, with a record of 1-1, 1 save, and an ERA of 3.73. Hochevar was the winning pitcher in the deciding Game 5 of the World Series. It was the Royals' first championship in 30 years.
In 2016, Hochevar made 40 appearances, finishing the year 2-3 with a 3.86 ERA. On November 5, 2016, the Royals declined their 2017 option on Hochevar, making him a free agent for the first time of his career.
Hochevar has a wide variety of pitches. He has a four-seam fastball and sinker that average about 93 mph, a cutter averaging 89, a slider at 85, a curveball in the high 70s, and a changeup in the low 80s. He uses five of the pitches to both right-handed and left-handed hitters, eschewing only the slider to lefties and the changeup to righties. His wide pitch variety can make him unpredictable to hitters; even in full counts, Hochevar throws his four-seamer, sinker, cutter, and slider in roughly equal proportions.
Hochevar comes from a family of athletes. In addition to his father's college basketball career and success as a high school and college baseball coach, Luke's sister Brittany was a volleyball standout at Long Beach State and currently plays beach volleyball for the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball tour.