Minnesota Twins: Hughes Injury opens up opportunity for Moya

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 11: Starting pitcher Phil Hughes
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 11: Starting pitcher Phil Hughes /

The Minnesota Twins have done a lot to improve their bullpen this offseason. Due to injury, one more promising arm might get a chance.

The Minnesota Twins are continuing to make decisions about who is going to make up their Opening Day roster. Each time we get a handle on what might happen it seems some new piece of information comes out. One big move that happened this weekend was Kennys Vargas was brought back to the Twins. In other roster impacting news, Phil Hughes has a mild oblique strain.

The Hughes injury news is the latest in the saga of what to do with the veteran pitcher. Ever since Hughes’ career year in 2014 where he set the record for strikeout to walk ratio (11.63) the right-hander has been plagued by injuries. This seemed like the season in which Hughes may be able to try to get back on track. With this oblique injury, he may be destined for the disabled list.

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The good news for the Twins is this gives them an opportunity to utilize a deserving reliever who likely would have been squeezed out otherwise. The animated lefty in Gabriel Moya was likely to be the odd man out of the bullpen due to his remaining minor league options. Instead, the successful minor leaguer will have a chance to prove his ability at the major league level to start the season.

Moya’s Chance

The Twins acquired Moya last season in exchange for catcher John Ryan Murphy. What first caught the Twins front office’s eye had to be his sub-1.00 ERA. In a phenomenal minor league season, Moya carried that through the whole 2017 season. Over 58.1 innings Moya had a 0.77 ERA, 87 strikeouts, for a 13.4 K/9 rate at Double-A.

Moya did have the opportunity to pitch some at the major league level. Over 6.1 innings he allowed 3 earned runs and saw his K/9 come down to 7.1. Over the spring, Moya has looked like the version of himself that minor league teams feared last year. This spring over 11.0 innings, he has allowed one run on a home run, and a 9.8 K/9 (12 strikeouts).

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That spring performance is what makes the fact that Moya could now make the Opening Day roster exciting. He has the makeup of the type of reliever that could have success as a back-end of the bullpen reliever. Moya now may have the chance to start proving that ability amongst an already greatly improved Twins bullpen.