Phil Hughes is thriving in Minnesota (and away from New York)

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Once upon a time Phil Hughes was the best pitching prospect in baseball, but his Yankees career came to a disappointing end last season as he went 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA in 146 innings before hitting the open market as a free agent.

Minnesota signed Hughes to a three-year, $24 million contract anyway, believing that getting out of New York would help him rediscover the potential he once had as a prospect. And so far at least it’s gone exactly according to plan for the Twins.

Hughes tossed seven shutout innings against the Padres last night to improve to 5-1 with a 3.15 ERA, including a fantastic 47/6 K/BB ratio in 54 innings. That strikeout rate of 7.8 per nine innings is right around Hughes’ career mark of 7.6, but the walk rate is totally uncharacteristic.

Last season Hughes walked 2.6 batters per nine innings and his career walk rate is 2.7 per nine innings. This year he’s walked 1.0 per nine innings and Hughes is currently on a streak of 147 consecutive batters without issuing a walk. That includes five straight zero-walk starts, during which time Hughes is 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA and 27/0 K/BB ratio in 33 innings.

It’s early still, but so far $24 million for three seasons is looking like one of the offseason’s best investments.

Blake Wood has a damaged UCL

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Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports that Angels reliever Blake Wood underwent an MRI and was diagnosed with a damaged ulnar collateral ligament. Wood will seek further opinions before a course of treatment is decided. Tommy John surgery is a possibility.

Wood, 32, had been on a rehab assignment with High-A Inland Empire and has been on the disabled list since April 22. Prior to the injury, Wood compiled a 2.31 ERA with a 10/7 K/BB ratio in 11 2/3 innings.

Keynan Middleton recently underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a damaged UCL, so it’s not been a great time to be a member of the Angels’ bullpen.