Without much fanfare, Phil Hughes has put together a great season in his first season with the Twins after leaving the Yankees. Hughes allowed five runs in five innings to the White Sox on Sunday afternoon, really only his second poor start out of his last 12 outings.
Hughes entered the start without having issued a walk since the fourth inning of his June 1 start against the Yankees. The walkless streak was snapped in the third inning, when he issued a free pass to White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers. As Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes, the streak spanned 106 batters. What’s incredible is that it isn’t even Hughes’ longest walkless streak this season. Between the second inning of his April 20 start against the Royals and that June 1 start, Hughes went through 178 batters between walks.
On the season, Hughes is 8-3 with a 3.40 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP, and an 82/9 K/BB ratio in 95 1/3 innings. His 2.3 percent walk rate is the lowest among 95 qualified starting pitchers in the major leagues, according to FanGraphs. The Twins signed him to a three-year, $24 million contract back in December. They have certainly gotten what they wanted from him so far.
Free agent left-hander Wade Miley is among several offseason targets for the Twins, according to a report from Darren Wolfson of KSTP. Miley’s $12 million option was declined by the Orioles back in November, and while he’s expected to attract another major league deal in 2018, he hasn’t exactly been highly sought after this offseason.
The 31-year-old lefty finished his second campaign with the Orioles in 2017, producing an 8-15 record in 32 starts and ranking second-to-last among all AL starters with a 5.61 ERA, 5.3 BB/9 and 8.1 SO/9 in 157 1/3 innings. Even taking Miley’s undeniable durability into account — he remained healthy for the bulk of the season and completed his sixth straight year with 30+ starts — his declining value and career-worst numbers may lower his price tag as the 2018 season approaches.
Wolfson notes that the Twins have engaged in “regular dialogue” with Miley’s agent this winter, but he’s far from the only starting pitcher they have their eye on. Right-handers Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Chris Tillman are still on their radar, among several others, and club owner Jim Pohlad said Saturday that he was “totally on board” with the idea of signing a big-name free agent like Darvish or another available starter. “There are some interesting names and some interesting opportunities there,” Pohlad told a crowd at TwinsFest. “I’m as intrigued by it as anybody and attracted to it as anybody.”