Phil Hughes became just the second pitcher in Yankees history to strike out four batters in an inning when he fanned J.P. Arencibia, Adeiny Hechevarria, Anthony Gose and Brett Lawrie in the fourth Thursday against the Blue Jays.
Hechevarria reached on a Russell Martin passed ball after his strikeout, making the rare feat possible. No Yankee had ever struck out four in an inning until A.J. Burnett did so against the Rockies on June 24, 2011.
Hughes ended up with nine strikeouts over his five innings, though it was a forgettable outing otherwise. He gave up four runs before departing. Moises Sierra hit a two-run homer off him.
Of course, if a pitcher does want to go on a strikeout binge, there’s no better option than facing the bottom of the Toronto order right now. Arencibia, Hechevarria and Gose had combined to strike out 166 times in 511 at-bats this season. Lawrie, on the other hand, had a relatively modest 70 strikeouts in 437 at-bats entering the night.
Athletics right-hander Jharel Cotton will undergo Tommy John surgery, per an announcement on Saturday. Cotton initially experienced some elbow soreness during a Cactus League start earlier this week and was officially diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament and strained flexor muscle on Thursday. He’ll be out of commission until 2019 at the earliest.
This isn’t the first time Cotton has dealt with elbow issues. According to MLB.com’s Jane Lee, he had screws inserted in his right elbow after sustaining a stress fracture in 2013 and suffered some minor elbow discomfort again last fall. Prior to his diagnosis, the 26-year-old was poised for his third run with the A’s in 2018. He pitched his first full season with the club in 2017, turning in a 5.58 ERA, 3.7 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 24 starts and 129 innings.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle adds that the team is open to adding pitching depth this spring, though they’ll wait to see if the price goes down on some free agents first. Barring that, right-handed long reliever Andrew Triggs could be tabbed to fill the fifth spot in the rotation.