Roansy Contreras Fixes What Plagued His '22 Season

Photo credit: Todd Kirkland/Getty Image

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Roansy Contreras has been one of the Pirates most talented starting pitchers since he took the mound as a 21 year-old at the end of the 2021 season.  That much was always clear.  Contreras had the ability to be a star.  

I've been high on Contreras his whole career, just waiting for him to break out, and I'm remiss that I didn't draft him in every one of my fantasy baseball leagues after last night.  Because last night, Contreras fixed the one thing that plagued his 2022 season.

When you're an aspiring ace like Contreras is, you can't just be great for the innings you pitch.  You are also expected to pitch for many innings per start.  Give your bullpen a break.  Be an "innings eater".  

Think of the great aces of our time.  Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, and now Sandy Alcantara.  All of those guys aren't just dominant for 5 or 6 innings per start.  They go deep into games.  Alcantara pitched a complete game shutout in his second start of the season last night.  Extremely impressive.

So when I heard that Contreras was on an 80-pitch pitch count last night, I expected Contreras to go three innings, four at most based on his track record.  Because in 2022 that was his problem.  Contreras seemed to turn every 0-2 count into a 3-2 count.  Then you get into a few fouled off pitches and, before you know it, Roansy has pitched back-to-back 10-pitch at-bats.  It was a real problem, and he would never go deep into games pitching like that, even when he was giving up just one or two runs.  

That's why I am so impressed with his start last night.  Not only did he give up just one earned run in 5.2 innings to a powerful Red Sox lineup, but he finally controlled his pitch count.  And he did so by not depending so heavily on the strikeout.  He actually only had two K's in the outing, and elicited a lot of ground ball outs.  We already knew Contreras had the ability to K hitters when needed, so it's nice to show that he can work deeper into games by not depending on an out that requires at least three pitches.

So while I was expecting Contreras to pitch four innings at most with a cap of 80 pitches, he actually worked through the 5.2 innings on just 78 pitches.  He certainly could have gone two more innings if we were in the meat of the season.  

This, to me, is an extremely good sign for Contreras.  I believe he finally realized that when he gets two strikes on a hitter, he doesn't have to waste pitches or nibble around the edges trying to get a strikeout.  Contreras is talented enough to go right at hitters, and he finally is.

If Contreras can continue to keep his pitch count under control, there's no reason he can't have an All-Star type season.  He'd also set himself up to be the ace of the staff at just 23 years old.  He's a budding star and his starts are appointment television.  Every five games, make sure you're in front of a TV so you can watch the new Pirates ace, Roansy Contreras.