Scrapheap relief-pitcher-career turnarounds are becoming a strength of the Pittsburgh Pirates. We have documented it recently.
Chris Resop provided value to the Pirates. The 30-year old is also off to a terrific start for the Oakland A’s during their nine-game winning streak.
Jose Veras proved valuable for the Bucs. Jason Grilli has found the fountain of youth in the Burgh. And now, Mark Melancon looks to be well on his way this season after coming over in the Joel Hanrahan trade – and Hanrahan himself was another reliever that rebuilt his career in a Pirates uniform.
The reports surrounding Jose Contreras have been great. Neal Huntington tried to restrain his optimism yesterday during his weekly radio show on 93.7 The Fan. And today it begins–Contreras heads down the comeback trail once again, when he pitches with the Bradenton Marauders.
This is the last time Contreras pitched in a Major League game and he was pitching well prior to this injury with six straight scoreless appearances. But on the fourth pitch he threw in this Philadelphia Phillies win over the Miami Marlins, the injury bug returned for the 6’4″ right-hander. It’s painful to watch. [Click through to watch]
Contreras had missed most of the 2011 season as well. He went on the DL with a forearm strain on June 20 until the end of the season. In 2012, he started the year on the DL after right elbow surgery in September to fix the problems.
So assuming Contreras pitches well in an actual game–Huntington is going to add him to the Major League roster.
The Bucs Senior Vice President and General Manager stated that Contreras would be the long man–and then he said it’s a role that isn’t well suited for Contreras, but will occur because the makeup of the pitching staff.
“We want to get him (Contreras) back-to-back a couple of times so when he gets here there are no limitations.” Neal Huntington
So, with the nasty forkball throwing (more on that below) Contreras on the way, who is going to be on their way out? Jeanmar Gomez would be our pick, but damn….he pitched well yesterday and could be pointed to as a key to the Bucs sweep.
What would you do?
An interesting story about how Contreras throws his forkball: [I couldn't find a link to, but grabbed a portion for you here.]
What makes Contreras’ grip so unique is that he doesn’t so much spread his fingers around the baseball as he wedges the ball into his fingers. Also – and here’s the amazing aspect to Contreras’ forkball – he throws the pitch with no thumb support.</p><p>Contreras held up that softball last week in Denver to demonstrate. (He likes to fiddle with a softball because it’s bigger than a baseball and keeps his fingers stretched.) He wedged the ball deep between his index and middle finger and held it up for a reporter to see. Look man, no thumb. On his forkball, Contreras dangles his thumb off the ball. He said it never touches the ball, not even for an instant at release. He literally throws the pitch with two fingers and a flop of the wrist.</p><p>Contreras pointed to the underside of his wrist and made a flopping motion.</p><p>“Loose wrist is the key,” he said.</p><p>Loose wrist and huge, strong hands.</
More on the nasty forkball defying gravity is here. Baseball Prospectus (subscriber)