Jared Hughes (48) days until Opening Day.
Hughes was impressive out of the ‘pen in his first full year, and should assume a larger role in 2013.
Three questions about number 48…
1. How will he react to the Cincinnati Reds? The whole ordeal with Brandon Phillips flared up multiple times in September, with the Reds trying to intimidate the young Bucs. While it shouldn’t carry over to 2013, Cincinnati comes to PNC early in the season. Being that Hughes is a big time competitor with an edge on the mound, you never know if blood will boil over. Hopefully Hughes can keep his composure and shut down the division rivals.
2. Can he pull up his strikeout rates? Despite being relatively successful last year, Hughes managed to strikeout just 5.9 batters per nine innings. That’s a below average clip, especially for a reliever. For comparison, Jason Grilli posted a ridiculous 13.8 K/9 in 2012. If Hughes wants to be successful out of the bullpen, he must miss bats and get out of situations with K’s.
3. How will he respond to a more important role? With the departures of Joel Hanrahan and Chris Resop, Hughes will certainly be relied upon in 2013. Grilli slides into the closer role, and new Bucco Mark Melancon should hold down the eighth inning. However, Hughes should still see his fair share of setup opportunities.