Few pitchers rely on one pitch as much as Jared Hughes does. He throws a 93-mph sinking fastball 75.5 percent of the time, inducing groundballs at a 57.9 percent clip. For parts of six seasons, Pittsburgh relied on him to throw the key double-play ball, but in 2016 he lost his command and his numbers suffered. He posted an 8.6 percent walk rate and struck out opponents at a 13.2 percent clip, which ranked fourth-worst among qualified big league relievers. Hughes, who compiled a 3.03 ERA (4.77 xFIP) and 1.42 WHIP in 59.1 innings, collected only four holds just one season after earning 21 holds. With three saves in his career, the right-hander offers little in the way of fantasy value. Look for him to man a low-leverage role in 2016.
Hughes agreed to a one-year, $2.825 million contract with the Pirates on Thursday, avoiding arbitration, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. He missed the first month of 2016 with a back injury and finished with just four holds in 67 appearances after racking up 21 holds in 2015, as the Pirates used him primarily in low-leverage spots. Hughes' ratios have gotten progressively worse in recent seasons and his 4.68 FIP from last year suggests his ERA could have been a lot worse.
Hughes was credited with his first save after pitching three innings of three-hit, scoreless ball in Saturday's 12-6 victory over the Cubs. He also struck out three. The veteran reliever brought some stability to a high-scoring affair, shutting out the Cubs over the final three frames to earn his first save in three opportunities this season. The outing was the fifth consecutive scoreless one for Hughes, who's lowered his ERA from 4.71 to 3.34 over that stretch.
Hughes will not be available out of the bullpen for the Pirates on Thursday, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Hughes has pitched in five of seven games since coming off the DL, compiling 4.2 scoreless innings and one hold. Ryan Vogelsong will likely fill Hughes' role Thursday.
Hughes made his 2016 debut Sunday, allowing one unearned run in one inning against the Reds. Cincinnati took advantage of a pair of Pittsburgh errors. Hughes pitched well despite completing a somewhat sketchy minor-league rehab stint. Expect Hughes to pitch in high-leverage situations in need of a ground ball out between the fifth and seventh innings going forward.
Hughes (back) was activated from the disabled list Saturday. As expected, Hughes will be activated after beginning the season on the DL with a strained lat, which he sustained during spring training. Hughes will add depth to the Pirates' bullpen, and the team optioned left-hander Rob Scahill to Triple-A on Saturday to clear a soot on the 25-man roster.