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
3. Phil Hughes
In 2014, it was Phil Hughes that became the Twins golden nugget in free agency, and it was Hughes who ended up being the ace of the staff. Behind a record-breaking season, Hughes looked every bit the part of a Cy Young candidate. While the expectation shouldn’t be that he would replicate that performance, continued success should be a realistic possibility.
Last season, in his first with the Twins, Hughes owned an 8.0 K/9 while striking out 186 batters. Both marks ranked amongst the best in his career, and helped to back an incredible 0.7 BB/9. In 2015, there is next to no doubt that Hughes will walk batters at a higher clip, if for no other reason that replication doesn’t seem possible.
Despite that, Hughes should continue to be one of the best strikeout pitchers on the Twins staff. While a small step back will likely take place, the Twins should be able to count on Hughes for around 160 strikeouts in 2015.