Roansy Contreras worked three innings out of the bullpen in the Pirates 9-4 victory over the Washington Nationals on Thursday. Thanks to his strong performance, which consisted of three shutout innings and five strikeouts, Contreras earned his first big league win.
“It was very exciting, very emotional as well. To be able to be a part of the victory that we brought to this team is something I can’t describe right now,” he said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez.
Contreras isn’t the only one who has given the Pirates length out of the bullpen. Wil Crowe, Dillon Peters and Miguel Yajure all have long track records as starting pitchers, and all four have looked strong in their new roles.
Crowe has been dominant over three appearances, seven innings in total. He’s allowed just one base hit and sat down nine opposing batters on punch outs. He’s latest outing was a three inning appearance on Wednesday to seal the victory against the Cubs, picking up his first win in the process. HIs seven innings are tops among any reliever in Major League Baseball.
Peters also pitched in that game against the Cubs, going two innings in his season debut. Peters picked up two strike outs, walked one and didn’t allow a hit or a run on the afternoon, picking up where he left off after six strong starts out of the Bucs rotation a year ago.
Contreras isn’t the only young arm to earn his first career victory as Yajure did on Sunday against the Cardinals after he too pitched a pair of scoreless innings. It’s presumed that Contreras and Yajure will both eventually get stretched out as starters again at some point, but until then, the Pirates will enjoy their services out of the pen.
Coming off of a short spring, it’s a nice luxury for Derek Shelton in being able to rely on these arms to provide some needed length as pitchers in the rotation are still getting built up. “I think it’s very important and one of the things we talked about is you have to have a stable of starters,” the Pirates skipper said.
Effectiveness and length out of the bullpen is a good recipe for success for the Pirates, both short-term and long-term. The short-term speaks for itself, if these guys are able to cover multiple innings and be as effective as they have been so far, it puts the Pirates in a much better position to win. In the long run, the Pirates are able to keep their starting pitchers and bullpen arms fresh in the early stages of a marathon-like season.
The unique circumstances of a shortened spring training have resulted in unique options and usage out of the Pirates bullpen. But those circumstances have been crucial in the Pirates finding some success early in the season.