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.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.