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Astros release veteran Jared Hughes after tough Spring

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 25: Jared Hughes #28 of the Houston Astros delivers a pitch against the Miami Marlins in the fourth inning of a Grapefruit League spring training game at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on February 25, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 25: Jared Hughes #28 of the Houston Astros delivers a pitch against the Miami Marlins in the fourth inning of a Grapefruit League spring training game at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on February 25, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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The Houston Astros released reliever Jared Hughes.

The Houston Astros released veteran right-handed reliever Jared Hughes on Thursday at the pitcher’s request. He signed a minor league contract that allowed him to opt out if not on the team’s 40-man roster by March 18.

Hughes didn’t have the results he or the club would have hoped for in Spring Training. In five appearances totaling 5.2 innings, the 34-year-old allowed four earned runs on five hits and three walks, for a 6.35 ERA and 1.412 WHIP. He gave up one home run and struck out four.

The Astros brought Hughes into camp in hopes that the sinkerballer would revert back to form after a tough 2019 season. There was plenty of opportunity for him to earn a spot in the team’s bullpen, but he wasn’t able to show enough in the abbreviated Spring Training.

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He had a great run from 2014-2018, never posting an ERA higher than 3.03 in that span. His 2018 season was superb, as he pitched to a 1.94 ERA and 1.017 WHIP in 78.2 innings. But a big spike in his home run rate was the primary culprit behind his tough 2019 season and what prompted his settling for a minor league deal.

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The Astros bullpen outlook gets a little clearer with Hughes now out of the picture. Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly and Joe Smith are guaranteed three of the available eight spots. Chris Devenski and Bryan Abreu seemed to have earned their jobs, and if healthy, Brad Peacock will join them. That leaves two spots to be determined.

If Justin Verlander is healthy, one of either Josh James or Austin Pruitt will pitch in long relief. The last spot could go to Framber Valdez, with dark horses being Cy Sneed, Blake Taylor and Joe Biagini. There’s not much depth beyond that, so things could get interesting if the injury bug strikes during the season.

Giving Hughes a shot was certainly worth the try. It didn’t cost the Astros much of anything, and it’s unfortunate it didn’t work out. Who knows how things would’ve gone if not for the season getting shut down. But Hughes will be looking to catch on elsewhere when baseball resumes.

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