Phil Hughes has been one of the only bright spots for the Twins, and one of the biggest surprises in baseball. After going eight innings yesterday, with five strikeouts and no walks, his K/BB ratio sits at an incredible 11.6/1—an MLB record for qualified pitchers. But if only Hughes could have gone eight and a third.
Hughes, in his first year in Minnesota, has a handful of bonus clauses in his deal. One would pay him $500,000 if he got to 210 innings. He was one out shy of that when he finished the eighth inning yesterday, with just 96 pitches under his belt. He would have come out for the ninth, Ron Gardenhire said, "but Mother Nature said no."
The skies opened up, and a 66-minute rain delay followed. (If there's a hell, it's an hour-long rain delay in a late-September game between the last-place Twins and the last-place Diamondbacks.) Hughes was done for the day, and with just four games left, Hughes is done for the season, finishing at 209 and two-thirds innings.
"I was aware of it," Hughes said. "Some things just weren't meant to be."
"It wasn't 209 ⅔," Hughes said of the bonus trigger. "It was 210. I have a lot of other things to hang my hat on."
Gardenhire frustratedly shot down the idea of starting Hughes again on short rest, or even bringing him out of the bullpen this weekend:
"You're really trying to get me fired, aren't you?" he said. "He's done for the year, and that was his last start."
Hughes is on a three-year, $24 million deal, and has achieved bonuses for hitting 180 and 190 innings. So he's doing OK. He'll have to settle for racking up 186 strikeouts to just 16 walks, bettering the record ratio set by Bret Saberhagen in 1994.