Luke Hochevar's been around the block, from being fixed to broken to fixed to broken more times than I count. Around the middle of May, a lot was made about Luke being one of the worst pitchers to achieve 100 major league starts when measured by career ERA. Not a good list by any means and it also put him in the company of Kyle Davies. We know ERA isn't a great way to judge a pitcher but quite a bit of research seems to say that after 100 starts or 600 innings, ERA is about as good as anything else when trying to predict future ERA. This was pertinent considering Hochevar's DIPS metrics have been better than his actual ERA, something that many Hochevar supporters pointed to as a sign that he was a victim of bad luck and bad defense. It might be a little true but it's also a little misleading after the number of innings he has thrown.
The second line of defense for Hochevar boiled down to he's actually been much better than his ERA because his blowups have been limited to one game followed by multiple good starts. This line seemed true but I never saw much proof other than anecdotal evidence of decent to good starts mixed in throughout his career. This also made me wonder if he was unique this way, is he different than other 5ish ERA pitchers because he mixes in more good starts than bad starts?
In a half-assed attempt at researching this, I decided to compare Luke to four other pitchers. All of the starts have been broken into three categories. They are great starts, good starts, and bad starts. Great starts are games where the pitcher gave up less than 3 runs. Good starts are 3 or 4 runs given up. Bad starts are any game where five or more runs were given up. The pitchers used for comparison are two guys that were close to him in fWAR and two guys that have ERA's close to Luke's, all having approximately the same number of games started. Using data from 2010 to last Friday, the results were pretty interesting.
Luke's performance is compared to fWAR peers since 2010 Jon Niese (4..9) and Rick Porcello (5.5). Porcello got a small bump on his WAR from the time I first looked up his numbers on Friday. His ERA peers were John Lackey (5.26) and Charlie Morton (4.95). For reference, Hochevar has a 5.03 ERA and 5.1 fWAR over the time period.
So a tiny and possibly meaningless sample of pitchers shows us that Luke doesn't appear all that unique among high ERA guys or similar fWAR guys. I'd imagine all guys getting 60ish starts over the last 2 1/2 seasons mix in enough good starts to continue pitching. He is what he is. That's a 5ish ERA pitcher somewhat below average.