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Monday, December 5, 2022

Roansy Contreras: What Analytics Said About His Rookie Season

Roansy Conteras burst onto the scene in 2021 while pitching in Double-A for the Altoona Curve. Getting off to a fantastic start, only a forearm injury slowed his ascent up the minors. He returned in time to eventually make his major league debut, pitching three shutout innings while striking out four.

Entering 2022, Contreras made the Opening Day roster out of the bullpen, before getting sent to Indianapolis to get ‘stretched out’ as a starter once again.

As with any rookie, Contreras had his ups and downs, but finished the year with a 5-5 record, posting a 3.67 ERA (110 ERA+) across 98 innings, striking out 90 and walking another 40.

Analytics doesn’t always tell the entire story, but they can show trends to look for going forward. Looking beyond Contreras’ basic counting numbers, here’s a look at some noteworthy metrics on his rookie season.

He Allowed A Lot of Hard Contact

Overall, there are quite a few advanced metrics that aren’t kind to Contreras, and that’s mainly due to his high exit velocity numbers allowed.

Nearly half of the batted balls he allowed traveled at least 95 mph, which qualifies as a ‘hard hit’. His Barrel percentage and Hard Hit rate were both in the fourth percentile overall. Along with those, his strikeout and walk rate along with his expected batting average and expected slugging percentage were all in the 40th percentile or worse.

His fastball played into a lot of that, as the average exit velocity on the pitch was 93.9 mph, and didn’t miss many bats overall (17.9% whiff rate). The velocity and spin rate (80th and 85th percentile, respectively) were fine, but it didn’t translate to much success.

We saw the success that Mitch Keller had once he started to utilize a sinker, so it could be something the Pirates look into with Contreras, if his fastball continues to get hit as hard as it has been.

An increase in his changeup usage could also help, as he threw it just 2.9% of the time, and while he didn’t give up hard contact (81.6 EV) with it, opponent’s did hit .333 against it, and Contreras picked up a whiff and put away rate of zero with the offspeed.

The Slider Was As Advertised

There were 134 pitchers this past season who had at least 100 plate appearances decided by a slider, and Contreras was one of the better players from that group. His slider finished 19th in whiff rate (42.1%), 49th in put away percentage (24.2), and held opponent’s to a .163 average with the pitch (23rd lowest).

On the season, Contreras struck out 21.1% of the batters he faced, which was only in the 38th percentile of all pitchers, but the rate was far better when he used the slider (32.5%, 56th of 134).

Curveball Can Be More Than A ‘Show Me’ Pitch

While Contreras’ slider is showing signs of being one of the better pitches in baseball, it’s not the only breaking pitch that he throws. Contreras mixes in a curveball, all though not that often. Over 80% of the time he throws either the fastball or slider, using the curve just 14.4% of the time.

The limited usage may help the success because hitters don’t expect it, but some of the results have been nearly as good as his slider.

Opponent’s hit just .212 against his curveball, and had an average exit velocity of just 86.1. He didn’t get hitters to chase as much, with just a 20.5% whiff rate, as he really just uses it as a ‘show-me’ pitch. The curve has good spin on it, and Contreras has gotten results, so there may be more there if he utilized it more in strikeout situations.

Contreras went through the usual ups and downs you’d expect out of any rookie. He’s shown, and the numbers back it up, to have some great stuff. Going forward, he will benefit by learning from what he struggled with and adapting his approach to find success.


Endy Rodriguez is the Pirates Prospects Minor League Player of the Year

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Matt Gorski is the Pirates Prospects Breakout Prospect of the Year

Pittsburgh Pirates System FIP Leaders: A Second Look At Pitching Performances

Roansy Contreras: What Analytics Said About His Rookie Season – READING

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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.


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