Phil Hughes outdueled Corey Kluber on Thursday, allowing one run over seven innings as the Twins beat the Indians 4-1. It was his fourth straight victory and 14th of the season. It was also his 15th consecutive start with one or no walks, the longest such streak for a starter since Cliff Lee had 20 in a row from July 2012-April 2013.
Hughes now has a 148/15 K/BB ratio in 165 innings on the year. If the season ended today, that’d be the third best ratio for a qualified starter since 1901.
11.0 – Bret Saberhagen – 1994 Mets (143/13 in 177 1/3 IP)
10.3 – Cliff Lee – 2010 Mariners/Rangers (185/18 in 212 1/3 IP)
9.9 – Phil Hughes – 2014 Twins
9.6 – Curt Schilling – 2002 Diamondbacks (313/33 in 259 1/3 IP)
8.9 – Pedro Martinez – 2000 Red Sox (284/32 in 217 IP)
8.9 – Greg Maddux – 1997 Braves (177/20 in 232 2/3 IP)
8.5 – Pedro Martinez – 1999 Red Sox (313/37 in 213 1/3 IP)
8.3 – Ben Sheets – 2004 Brewers (264/32 in 237 IP)
7.9 – Carlos Silva – 2oo5 Twins (71/9 in 188 1/3 IP)
7.9 – Greg Maddux – 1995 Braves (181/23 in 209 2/3 IP
Of course, the season isn’t ending today. And Hughes doesn’t actually have the best ratio in baseball this year. That belongs to Hisashi Iwakuma, who is at 120/12 K/BB in 147 innings. Plus, Clayton Kershaw isn’t far behind at 9.2, having struck out 174 and walked 19 in 145 1/3 innings.
Barring disaster, both of those guys will join Hughes in qualifying for the ERA title, and the entire top 10 above could get rewritten. Heck, David Price is at 7.6 right now and could squeeze in himself with a stellar finish. It’s certainly a new era as far as K/BB ratios go.
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.