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.
Making official what manager Ned Yost talked about last week, the Royals announced their rotation for the ALDS versus the Wild Card game winner: Yordano Ventura, not Johnny Cueto, will get the Game 1 assignment against the Yankees or Astros, followed by Cueto in Game 2 and Edinson Volquez in Game 3.
It’s quite a turnaround for Ventura, who pitched his way out of the rotation and was briefly demoted to Triple-A, only to quickly return and go 7-1 with a 2.38 ERA in his final 11 starts.
When the Royals acquired Cueto from the Reds they did so with the intention of the impending free agent becoming their top-of-the-rotation ace, but he mostly struggled with a 4.76 ERA in 13 post-trade starts.
Volquez led the Royals with 200 innings, starting 33 games with a 3.55 ERA and 155/72 K/BB ratio while allowing just 16 homers in 850 plate appearances.
Setting their rotation for the beginning of the ALDS versus the Blue Jays, the Rangers announced that right-hander Yovani Gallardo will start Game 1 and left-hander Cole Hamels will start Game 2.
Gallardo posted a 3.42 ERA in 33 starts this season, but averaged just 5.6 innings per start and hasn’t completed six or more innings in a start since mid-August. Clearly the Rangers will be hoping for five or six innings from him before turning it over to the bullpen.
Hamels, on the other hand, averaged seven innings in his 12 post-trade starts for the Rangers, including tossing a complete-game against the Angels in the regular season finale. He’s obviously the Rangers’ best starting pitcher, but because Hamels was needed to clinch the division title in Game 162 he’s not available to start Game 1 of the playoffs.