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.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.