RHP Phil Hughes
We have hit a point in the list where this spot will only exist for a short time once the major league season opens up. Since the Twins plan to open the season with a four-man rotation this eighth bullpen spot will exist. Honestly, there are three other names that deserve to be here in many ways, but contract status and minor league options come into play here. Making Phil Hughes the Twins long-reliever entering the season.
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I wrote a little more in depth about Hughes in the starting rotation projections, because at that point for similar reasons he seemed set to be a starter. The addition of Lance Lynn pushes him here. Hughes doesn’t profile well for a bullpen spot as someone who has struggled with his arm strength and velocity due to injury already, it is hard to see this being a place where he can really succeed.
Somewhat similar to Kinley, with the other strong five or six pieces in the bullpen the Twins can experiment with this a bit if they don’t flat out cut him. After a strong season in 2017, it is really hard to see Alan Busenitz be pushed out of the bullpen. Busenitz did nothing but pitch himself into a bullpen last season before all the additions the Twins made. It would also simply be more exciting to watch Gabriel Moya and John Curtiss receive a chance in the bullpen.
Unless Hughes plans on pulling something like Mike Pelfrey did and flat out refuse this assignment. Hughes will be starting the season in this position and when Ervin Santana and bumps the rotation back to five starters a tough decision will need to be made by the Twins front office. That is a good problem, to have too many quality pitchers for both your rotation and bullpen.