Pittsburgh Pirates: Jhan Marinez vs George Kontos

DETROIT, MI - JULY 5: Pitcher George Kontos; (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - JULY 5: Pitcher George Kontos; (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates made a roster move to boost their bullpen yesterday  Some have questioned if the Bucs made the right move by cutting Jhan Marinez to make room for the new addition. Let’s analyze the two reliever’s seasons so far.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were just as active yesterday as they were on Trade Deadline day.  They made a trade for super utility player Sean Rodriguez.  Going to Atlanta was a former supplemental round first round pick, Connor Joe.  This deal was well received and makes a lot of sense for the Pittsburgh Pirates going forward.  It deepens their bench, allows David Freese to get more days off, and give them a hitter who was productive for them in the past.

However, they also made a move to help bolster their bullpen.  The Pittsburgh Pirates were awarded San Francisco Giants reliever George Kontos after putting in a waiver claim on him.  To make room for the righty reliever the Bucs designated Jhan Marinez for assignment.  Marinez was claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates early this season.

This roster move was not greeted with as much positive reaction as the Rodriguez deal was.  Now that is not to say that fans were upset or against the move, but rather just unsure if Kontos was an upgrade over Marinez.  All in all, Marinez has seemed to do a pretty fair job for the Bucs this year. Meanwhile, Kontos was being cut by a team with a worse record than the Pirates.  So what makes Kontos more attractive to the Pittsburgh Pirates?

Jhan Marinez

Well, let’s first take a look at Jhan Marinez’s numbers as a Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher. At first glance, Marinez put together a solid career as a Bucco.  He posted a 3.18 earned run average in 34 innings.  However, beyond his ERA his peripheral numbers are not as good.

His FIP is 4.55 suggesting that he has not pitched as well as his ERA indicates.  This mainly has come from his ridiculously high strand rate of 85%, which is unsustainable.  Also, he was not posting a very good strikeout rate as he was only averaging 6 per nine innings pitched. Add all that up and he posted a -0.1 fWAR in his time as a Pittsburgh Pirates reliever.

George Kontos

Kontos has actually had a relatively solid season for the Giants, but opposite of Marinez’s numbers. At first glance, Kontos is 0-5 with while sporting an ERA of 3.83 and a WHIP of 1.35 in 51.2 innings pitched. This is not terrible, but not exactly numbers that get anyone excited either.  However, like most of the pitchers, the Bucs pick up, Kontos’ metrics suggest that he is actually pitching well this season. Although Kontos’ ERA is 3.83 his xFIP is significantly lower at 3.55.  This suggests that if he continues to pitch the way he has that his results will improve.  The Giants rank in the bottom ten of nearly every defensive category while the Bucs rank in the top half of the league, which should help Kontos as well.

The other encouraging thing about Kontos is his ability to miss bats.  The league average for swing and miss rate is typically around 10%, Kontos has gotten batters to swing and miss 16.3% of the time this season.  With an above average swing and miss rate, he is also striking a lot of batters out.  So far he has 55 strikeouts in 52.1 innings pitched.  This gives him a rate of 9.58 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.  Also, he is walking under 3 batters per nine innings pitched at 2.96. So really Kontos is a typical Pittsburgh Pirates pitching candidate, one that should benefit from the change.

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Kontos over Marinez

One issue that both pitchers have had this season is keeping the ball in the ball park.  Both pitchers are giving up over 1 home run per nine innings pitchers.  Still, it should not be a big concern going forward.  One major difference is that Kontos has had a much more successful major league career.  Kontos was part of two World Series winning Ginat teams, while Marinez continues to be DFA’d by teams.  All in all, Kontos likely brings a more reliable veteran arm, that should post better numbers in the long run. Additionally, being controlled for another two seasons adds to the value of Kontos.