It’s Ro Day in Pittsburgh, as the Pirates try to take the series from the Oakland Athletics this afternoon with Roansy Contreras on the mound. In Triple-A, the Pirates are starting one of their top pitching prospects in Quinn Priester.
Last night’s game against the A’s saw Mitch Keller struggle for the third start in a row. Contreras has struggled for most of this season. He’s made five starts since the beginning of May. Only one of those outings has seen an ERA under 5 and an FIP under 6. That was his outing against Baltimore, where he gave up two runs in seven innings of work.
Contreras started the year looking great, with a 3.58 ERA in 27.2 innings over five starts in April. These numbers included seven runs in 3.1 innings of work in his second outing. He had some rough stretches in 2022, but nothing as extensive as the struggles he’s shown in May.
Priester has seen the opposite trends. In his first month of the year with Indianapolis, he put up a 7.78 ERA in 19.2 innings of work, striking out 25 in the process. Since the start of May, he has a 2.27 ERA in 31.2 innings, with 28 strikeouts. There’s a concern that Priester doesn’t strike out enough — only two of these six starts have a strikeout per inning or more. He had strikeouts with a bad ERA in April, and has been unhittable with the lower strikeout rate in May. Strikeouts indicate an ability to shut the other side down, but they’re less important when you’re shutting down the other side without them.
Contreras and Priester have been throwing on the same schedule since May 21st. That’s probably a coincidence, as it followed the Baltimore start from Contreras, which would have been a more optimistic time — with just two bad starts at that time sandwiched between the Baltimore start and his April.
I wouldn’t write off Contreras. He’s in his age 23 season, and had a bad month following a good month. That said, if he continues to struggle, he might need some work in Indianapolis, or in the MLB bullpen. The current alignment, and the way Priester is throwing, could allow the Pirates to easily switch out Contreras if the struggles persist.
PIRATES (32-28) VS ATHLETICS
Game Time: 12:05 PM EST
Pirates Starter: Roansy Contreras, RHP (3-4, 4.82)
Athletics Starter: Hogan Harris, LHP (0-0, 6.97)
Game 3 vs the A's.
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) June 7, 2023
Run it 🔙 pic.twitter.com/2qHa29tI9b
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) June 7, 2023
INDIANAPOLIS (28-29) VS OMAHA
Game Time: 1:35 PM EST
Projected Starter: Quinn Priester, RHP (6-3, 4.38)
ALTOONA (28-22) AT RICHMOND
Game Time: 6:35 PM EST
Projected Starter: TBA
GREENSBORO (27-23) VS WILMINGTON
Game Time: 6:30 PM EST
Projected Starter: TBA
6/4: Braxton Ashcraft Showing Velocity and Control in Return From Tommy John
6/2: Abrahan Gutierrez Hitting Ground Running Returning From Injury
5/26: Anthony Solometo Faces Two Top 100 Prospects In Greensboro
BRADENTON (28-24) VS DUNEDIN
Game Time: 6:30 PM EST
Projected Starter: TBA
FCL PIRATES (1-1) OFF
DSL PIRATES BLACK (0-2) OFF
DSL PIRATES GOLD (2-0) OFF
DAILY PIRATES NEWS
**Mitch Keller struggled again in the loss to Oakland last night. Anthony Murphy looked at the start in today’s Pirates Prospects Daily.
**Ryan Palencer looks at how infield prospect Aaron Shackelford has adjusted his swing and relocated his power in the first half of the season with Indianapolis.
More Recent Pirates Features
Check back at the end of the night for all of the daily results throughout the system, or, join the discussion in the comments if you’re following Live.
Final Score: Athletics 9, Pirates 5
Player of the Game: Rodolfo Castro, SS (2-for-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI)
The final game against the Athletics ended up being another rough outing for Roansy Contreras. This time, it was his worst outing of the year, giving up seven earned runs and recording just one out in the first inning.
Rob Zastryzny took over with the bases loaded and allowed two runs to score. He pitched a scoreless second, before turning the ball over to Luis Ortiz. The Pirates got five innings from Ortiz, who battled to allow two runs on ten hits.
The Pirates got most of their offensive production from Ke’Bryan Hayes and Rodolfo Castro. Hayes went 3-for-4 with a triple, his fifth of the year. Castro had a double, his sixth homer of the year, and three RBIs.
The offense had a small rally in the ninth inning that led to Ji-Hwan Bae scoring after a leadoff walk. The Pirates had the tying run at the plate with one out and the bases loaded. Carlos Santana popped out and Hayes grounded out to first to end the game.
PIRATES PROSPECT WATCH
By Wilbur Miller
Final Score: Omaha 9, Indianapolis 7
Player of the Game: Cal Mitchell 2-for-5, 2B, HR (7), 3 RBI
Today wasn’t a great day for the Pirates’ “rotation of the future,” although Quinn Priester didn’t have the fiasco that Roansy Contreras did. Priester struggled early, giving up four in the second inning, but he recovered to go five, despite allowing eight hits and two walks. He struck out four.
Despite the one bad inning, Indy built up a 7-4 lead over Omaha after five. Cal Mitchell did a lot of the damage, with an RBI double and a two-run home run, his seventh longball of the year. Endy Rodriguez and Miguel Andujar also had two hits apiece, with Rodriguez picking up a double. Henry Davis, playing right in this one, tripled for his first AAA hit, and new Pirate Alika Williams had a double. Nick Gonzales had a single and two walks. Jared Triolo’s had better days; he got himself a golden sombrero.
Once Priester was out, the lead didn’t last long. Daniel Zamora came on for the sixth and retired just two batters. He walked three, hit one and allowed a hit, along with three runs to tie it. Cody Bolton worked a scoreless eighth, but gave up the two decisive runs in the top of the ninth. Another relatively new Pirate, Ryan Borucki, got the last out in the ninth, but also walked two and let one of Bolton’s runners score.
Final Score: Richmond 6, Altoona 1
Player of the Game: Brad Case 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K
Altoona couldn’t get any offense going and lost to Richmond, 6-1. The Curve had just five hits. A Matt Gorski single drove in Liover Peguero, who’d walked, with the only run. Chavez Young, just demoted from AAA, was the only player with two hits.
Gorski’s RBI, which came in the fifth, put Altoona up at the time. Brad Case made his first start of the year and threw three shutout innings. Omar Cruz followed with one. Things went downhill after that. Nick Dombkowski gave up four runs, three earned, while retiring only one batter. Bear Bellomy allowed another two runs.
Final Score: Greensboro 5, Wilmington 4
Player of the Game: Eli Wilson 1-for-2, HR (3), 3 RBI, 2 BB
Bubba Chandler had yet another rough start, but Greensboro held on and won in walkoff fashion in the ninth. Chandler was going along fine until the fourth, when he allowed four runs and left with two outs. He gave up four hits and two walks, and struck out six.
The bullpen shut it down after that. Michell Miliano worked a scoreless inning and a third, fanning three. Then four relievers each threw a 1-2-3 inning.
The Hoppers stayed even with the longball. Luke Brown had given them the early lead with his first home run of the year. After Chandler’s problems in the fourth, Eli Wilson belted a three-run shot in the sixth to tie it. It was his third home run of the season. That was it until the bottom of the ninth when, with one out, Tres Gonzalez singled and scored on a double by Tsung-Che Cheng. Wilson and Gonzalez each reached base three times in the game, as the Hoppers had only five hits but drew eight walks.
Final Score: Dunedin 3, Bradenton 1
Player of the Game: Julian Bosnic 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K
J.P. Massey had his weakest start since April as Bradenton lost, 3-1. It still wasn’t bad, as Massey went six, giving up three runs on five hits and two walks, with four strikeouts. Julian Bosnic and Elijah Birdsong finished, with two scoreless innings and one, respectively.
The offense managed only four hits, with a double by Shalin Polanco producing the only run. Rodolfo Nolasco and Jesus Castillo each drew two walks. Termarr Johnson was 0-for-3 with a walk.
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.