On July 7, the Pittsburgh Pirates faced the Cincinnati Reds with Roansy Contreras on the bump.
During Contreras’ outing, the rookie right-hander went six innings (his career high in the majors), gave up four hits, one earned run, walked one, and struck out seven. Following that outing, the Pirates decided to option Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis.
The Pirates wanted to clarify that optioning Contreras was more of a “safety measure” to limit innings pitched and save his arm. Looking at the numbers, Contreras had only pitched more than 63.1 innings once in a professional season, which was in 2019, when he pitched 132.1. With COVID shutting down the minor league season in 2020 and a forearm injury slowing Contreras in 2021, it makes sense to limit his innings.
One of the main things that did not make sense was optioning Contreras to Triple-A. If you want to manage a workload and pick and choose where to pitch someone, you put them in the bullpen. Baseball is a business, and manipulating service time is a thing, but it just seems a tad crazy with the Contreras situation.
Contreras has made two starts in Indianapolis since being sent down and combined to go five innings, with five hits, two earned runs, one walk, and seven strikeouts. Now, when will Contreras be in a Pirates’ uniform again?
“There is no magic number with (Contreras),” said Pirates general manager Ben Cherington on 93.7 The Fan on Sunday. “The whole goal is to put Contreras in a situation where he is making starts in September at the major league level. In order to do that safely, we feel like we needed to create this break in the middle of the season.”
Although Cherington said there wasn’t a magic number, Contreras would appear likely to stay at the Triple-A level until late August or early September. While in Triple-A, how will the Pirates use Contreras?
“Contreras will build his pitch count up, similar to spring training,” said Cherington. “Contreras needs to do his part, which he has. Contreras has continued to work hard. When you’re in Triple-A, it’s not just about waiting to get called back up; it’s an opportunity to get better, and that’s what we tell these guys who get sent back down.”
Is Roansy Contreras best served with his development in Triple-A? In my opinion, no, but Contreras was indeed sent down, and now we wait for the inevitable recall for the last month of the 2022 season.