Michael Bowden was drafted as a starter by the Red Sox back in 2005 and had success in that role for the first four years of his minor league career. And yet he’s made only two career starts at the major league level against 67 career relief appearances.
But that script could be flipped next summer.
According to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, the 26-year-old right-hander is stretching himself out this offseason in the Dominican Winter League with the hope of getting a chance to compete for a spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation next spring. If the experiment doesn’t wind up producing promising results, he will simply be shifted into a long relief role sometime before Opening Day.
Bowden, who registered a 2.95 ERA and 1.26 WHIP across 39 2/3 relief innings in 2012, has gone at least five frames in each of his last two starts for Águilas Cibaeñas — a team that also boasts former major leaguers Manny Ramirez and Miguel Tejada, and top Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras.
Phil Hughes was officially designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday, the culmination of multiple injury-plagued seasons and poor performance.
Things couldn’t have started out much better for Hughes in Minnesota. The former Yankees hurler joined the Twins on a three-year, $24 million contract in December of 2013 and reeled off a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts during his first season with the club. He set the MLB record (which still stands, by the way) for single season strikeout-to-walk ratio and even received some downballot Cy Young Award consideration. The big year resulted in the two sides ripping up their previous agreement with a new five-year, $58 million deal, but it was all downhill after that.
Hughes took a step back with a 4.40 ERA in 2015 and struggled with a 5.95 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance in 2016 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He wasn’t any better upon his return last year, putting up a 5.87 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Hughes missed time with a biceps issue and required a thoracic outlet revision surgery in August. He began this year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, only to put up a 6.75 ERA over two starts and five relief appearances before the Twins decided to turn the page this week.
Hughes is still owed the remainder of his $13.2 million salary for this year and another $13.2 million next year. The deal didn’t work out as anyone would have hoped, but unfortunately this is another case of health just not cooperating.