Sep 13, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Phil Hughes (45) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning in game one of a doubleheader at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
The only pitcher to make the list really shouldn’t surprise anyone. For the heart of 2014, Hughes looked like a Cy Young candidate, and was easily the best free agent signing for the Twins in years. That being said, it really shouldn’t have been all that much of a surprise. Hughes was a highly regarded talent when drafted by the Yankees, and playing in a very hitter friendly Yankee Stadium did him no favors.
Upon his arrival in a larger, and more major league comparable ballpark in Target Field, Hughes posted career numbers with a 3.52 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 8.0 K/9. He also posted Major League Baseball records with 0.7 BB/9 and 11.63 K/BB numbers. It’s relatively safe to say that Hughes was nothing short of spectacular last season.
In 2015, as the expected Twins ace, Hughes will have even more pressure on his plate. That being said, the nucleus of what is around him being better should play to his advantage. With an offense that has improved after producing the 7th most runs in baseball a season ago, and a pitching staff that should have fewer holes, Hughes should benefit from his surroundings. Despite a career 4.32 ERA, it’s safe to assume that Hughes will once again post an ERA under 4, and likely not above 3.8. He’s an efficient pitcher, and he has been in the major leagues long enough to know how to adjust. Look for Hughes to once again be the leader of the Twins staff.
As a whole, the Twins should feel as though they have a stable of talent when turning the calendar towards 2015. Despite having a handful of candidates prime for regression, there is enough other options that will be able to pick up the slack. Baseball on a year-by-year basis is always going to see ups and downs in production, the key is limiting the peaks and the valleys while having others step up.
Minnesota will need another Danny Santana or Kennys Vargas to emerge this year, and should they be as competitive as they seem to be poised for, that will likely happen. With maybe one last chance left for him, look for Aaron Hicks to be someone to watch. Oswaldo Arcia could decide to carry his hot end of 2014 into the new year, or one of the young prospects might be the one to make the leap. Expect Ricky Nolasco to have a bounce back season from the mound, and the Twins to once again develop a few relievers into key pieces.
At the end of the day, regression isn’t something to worry about, it’s merely a discussion piece to be aware of and build around. Here’s to seeing what exciting developments 2015 has in store.
More from Puckett's Pond
- Minnesota Twins: Does the MLB or the Twins have a Spending Problem?
- Minnesota Twins: 2 Possible Free Agent Reunions for 2023
- Minnesota Twins: Holiday Wish List for the rest of the Offseason
- Minnesota Twins: After signing with the Mets, Correa spurns Twins again
- Minnesota Twins: You Spin Me Right Round, Right Round