On April 21st, the Pittsburgh Pirates optioned right-handed pitcher Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis. Both general manager Ben Cherington and manager Derek Shelton said the reasoning behind the move was to “stretch Contreras out as a starter.”
During his first month of the ’22 season, Contreras strictly came out of the bullpen in a long reliever role like what the Pirates have been doing with Wil Crowe and Dillon Peters. Contreras consistently hit upper 90s’ with his fastball and had excellent placement of his curveball and slider.
On Cherington’s radio show this past Sunday, he discussed both Oneil Cruz and Contreras, but the Contreras talk probably piqued many Pirates fans’ interests.
“[Contreras] is doing everything he needs to be doing right now,” said Cherington. “We saw Contreras up with the big league club early in April, and he did a good job. Contreras was sent down to Triple-A to get in that starter’s routine, and he’s in that routine now, pitching in a regular rotation and can pitch up to four innings.”
Cherington mentioned that Contreras was showing the same stuff as he was in the Majors and had been posing problems for opposing hitters at the Triple-A level.
“We’re probably looking for Contreras to be a little more efficient,” said Cherington. “Obviously, if Contreras is a little more efficient with his pitches, it would allow him to go a little deeper into games. Being efficient is probably the next step in Contreras’ progression as a starter.”
It’s no secret that the Pirates need pitching depth from the bullpen and in the starting rotation, which is why it was puzzling sending Contreras down to Triple-A when you could’ve stretched him out and achieved the same result with him at the Major League level.
Nonetheless, Cherington said what we all expected when he reaffirmed that Contreras is an important and crucial part of the Pirates’ long-term success.