Hughes, 32, has played a big part in helping the Reds turn the corner. He’s 2-2 with a 1.36 ERA in 34 relief appearances and 39 2/3 innings. He has five saves in six opportunities. Reds relievers have allowed 28 home runs, but Hughes has allowed only one and none in his last 30 2/3 innings.
Of relievers who have thrown at least 39 innings, he has the second-best ERA in baseball, trailing only the Brewers’ Josh Hader (1.13 ERA in 39 2/3 innings).
If Hughes continues on his current pace, this will be a career year for him. He was 7-5 with a 1.96 ERA in 63 appearances for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014. He pitched six seasons for the Pirates before signing as a free agent with the Brewers in 2017. Last season, he was 5-3 with a 3.02 ERA in 67 games.
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The Reds signed Hughes in December to add a veteran presence to the bullpen, and he has delivered everything they hoped he would.
“I’m always looking to go out there and have success,” Hughes said. “I wish we were having better success in terms of our overall record and winning more. Things do look good right now. Recently, we have won a lot. Let’s keep it going. That’s the plan: every day showing up ready to win.”
Hughes deflected praise, giving all the credit to his teammates.
“In terms of the way I’ve pitched, a lot of it has to do with Tucker (Barnhart) behind the dish,” Hughes said. “He is such a good pitch-caller. I feel like he is the most prepared catcher I have every thrown to — the way he studies hitters. His overall knowledge of what needs to happen next in the at-bat is outstanding. I trust him a lot, and of course, I’m a contact pitcher, so the defense has just been huge.”
Reds at Braves, 7:35 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410