- Right-handed relief pitcher
- 33 years old
- Born in Stamford, CT, on Independence Day, 1985.
- Stamford, CT is of course the long time home of studio shows like The Steve Wilkos Show, of which the host served as “security” for the Jerry Springer Show, also filmed in Stamford since 2009. Jerry Springer is the former Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, where the Reds play.
- Went to high school at Santa Margarita Catholic HS in California, and attended Cal State Long Beach and Santa Clara University.
- Notable alumni of Santa Clara: Randy Winn
- Notable alumni of Cal State Long Beach: Jason Giambi, Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria
- Will stare deep into your soul.
- Drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 16th round of the 2003 MLB draft (did not sign).
- Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 4th round of the 2006 MLB draft.
- Made MLB debut on September 7, 2011.
- Released by the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 29, 2017.
- Signed with the Milwaukee Brewers on April 2, 2017.
- Granted free agency by the Brewers on December 1, 2017.
- Signed a 2 year/$2 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds on December 26, 2017.
|162 Game Avg.||4||3||.558||2.69||68||0||17||0||0||2||67||60||23||20||5||22||3||45||5||0||4||278||147||3.93||1.226||8.0||0.6||3.0||6.0||1.99|
|PIT (6 yrs)||15||13||.536||2.82||313||0||74||0||0||3||309.1||294||118||97||23||102||15||189||25||0||17||1307||136||4.09||1.280||8.6||0.7||3.0||5.5||1.85|
|CIN (1 yr)||4||3||.571||1.94||72||0||23||0||0||7||78.2||57||17||17||4||23||2||59||2||0||5||298||216||3.28||1.017||6.5||0.5||2.6||6.8||2.57|
|MIL (1 yr)||5||3||.625||3.02||67||0||15||0||0||1||59.2||49||21||20||4||24||5||48||6||0||6||244||146||3.93||1.223||7.4||0.6||3.6||7.2||2.00|
Jared Hughes Stares Into and Through Your Soul
Jared Hughes Stares Into and Through Your Soul (but also with a baseball in his hand)
Jared Hughes Stares Into and Through Jim Day’s Soul (if he, you know, had one)
Jared Hughes was truly incredible for the Reds last season, and that in and of itself is somewhat incredible. Having been cut by two division rivals in the previous two seasons, the Reds picked up Hughes on a two year, two million dollar pact in late December of 2017, with a three million dollar club option for 2020.
It was a fine move on the part of the Reds the day it was made. Hughes has a track record of being a solid if unspectacular bullpen piece, and he did it for a few really good Pirates teams in the middle part of the decade. I don’t think anyone in the Reds front office could have imagined just how good the move would turnout, however, as Hughes went on to have a career year in Cincinnati.
The 3.3 bWAR he obtained in 2018 was by far the highest, with the next highest (1.3) coming in 2015. His 1.94 ERA was the lowest of his career, just beating out his 2014, 1.96 ERA campaign. Here’s a few more career bests: IP (78.2), K (59), ERA+ (216), FIP (3.28), WHIP (1.017), SO/W (2.57).
Get the point?
In 2018, a 32-year-old Jared Hughes pitched more than he ever had before in a season and better than he ever had before in a season. So the question is: can he come anywhere close to doing it again?
MLB relief pitching is notoriously fickle year over year, so the short and easiest answer is, “Probably not.” And really, that’s fine. The Reds probably don’t need Jared Hughes to be a 3 bWAR player out of the pen to have team success (though it obviously wouldn’t hurt). But the Reds have to be asking themselves how much regression could be in store. Considering they haven’t done much of anything to add to the bullpen, they must not be particularly worried about it.
Still, Hughes posted a strand rate nearly 10% higher in 2018 than his previous career average (85.1% vs. 76.6%). That was good for ninth highest among relievers in all of Major League Baseball, minimum 50 innings pitched (Raisel Iglesias clocked in at number two). Hughes throws a bowling ball of a sinker and has always induced a lot of ground balls. Again, though, he did it a career best rate in 2018, and his 65.4% was fourth best.
None of this is to say that I expect Jared Hughes to fall off the cliff. The difference in ERA and FIP is obvious here, but Jared Hughes as always somewhat easily outperformed his FIP. And, his FIP was the lowest that he’d ever totaled before, so it’s not like there’s a lot baked into these numbers that immediately suggests he’s just going to implode. But the Reds seems to be operating in such a way that they believe that Hughes will continue to dominate. I don’t believe that is particularly fair to ask of him.
David Bell has already hinted at using Raisel Iglesias in the most important bullpen situations, which leaves someone to do the job of the traditional closer. Based upon last year’s performances, that’s probably where Jared Hughes will be slotted in to begin the year. But, if the regression bug bites just hard enough, will he be good enough? David Hernandez would be the next likely suspect. Beyond that, is there anyone in the pen at present you’d feel all that comfortable handing the ball to in the 9th inning with a two run lead?
The Reds have a plethora of younger arms that haven’t panned out so well in the rotation, and are out of options, that they will surely rotate in and out of the bullpen as the season progresses. Maybe one of them surprises us, but we’ve been waiting for one of those guys to surprise us for a long damn time.
Jared Hughes was an anchor in the bullpen in 2018. Maybe he continues to do so in 2019, but betting on it as sure thing seems like fool’s gold. If only there was something of a dominant bullpen piece available on the market...