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.
Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.
Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.
Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.