Unfortunately for veteran right-handed pitcher Jose Contreras, the Pittsburgh Pirates have had to place him on the bereavement list due to a death in his family. To replace Contreras in the bullpen, the Pirates have recalled Jared Hughes. Hughes had initially been optioned to Triple-A when the Pirates originally promoted Contreras a few weeks ago.
In just four innings in 2013, Contreras has pitched to a 4.50 ERA with five hits allowed, four strikeouts and one walk. Overall, he has been effective, aside from one bad appearance against the New York Mets.
Hughes, the man the Pirates have chosen to replace Contreras, had begun the 2013 season in the Pirates’ bullpen. However, the 27-year-old pitcher struggled mightily in his time with the Pirates. In 13.2 innings, Hughes allowed 13 hits and nine walks. He also pitched very badly in high-leverage situations, resulting in a 1-2 record and a 4.61 ERA.
In 2012, Hughes was a dominant reliever for the Pirates. In 75.2 innings last season, Hughes pitched to a 2.85 ERA. A lot of that must have involved luck and timely ground ball double plays, because he had a 1.61 WHIP, with 65 hits allowed and 22 walks.
While playing for Triple-A Indianapolis, Hughes pitched in 6.2 innings, allowing five hits and three walks. He didn’t give up any runs, but eight base runners in 6.2 innings is still too many. If he wasn’t able to keep guys off base in the minor leagues, I don’t see why he will be able to in the MLB.
In a perfect world, Hughes will be able to get back to his 2012 self while Contreras is on the bereavement list, but I don’t think that will happen.