The Pittsburgh Pirates Have no Need for George Kontos


There is no longer a spot in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ bullpen for veteran reliever George Kontos

Last August, the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired right-handed reliever George Kontos from the San Francisco Giants. Kontos became the team’s 8th inning man upon arriving in Pittsburgh and he remains in this role.

Last week, I wrote that the Pirates need to stop using Kontos in high-leverage situations. Despite his struggles this season, Clint Hurdle has continued to use him in these situations. And now, there is no longer a need for Kontos in the Pirate bullpen.

In 17 2/3 innings pitched this season Kontos has been dreadful. He has allowed 20 hits, three home runs, he has walked three, hit two, and struck out just seven. His average fastball velocity (89.6 miles per hour) and slider velocity (83.6 miles per hour) are both career lows. He is also allowing hard contact 41.5% of the time this season. Not only is this alarming rate by far a career high, it is also among the worst for National League relievers with at least 15 innings pitched.

PitcherHard Contact Rate
Hunter Strickland52.3%
Sam Dyson50.0%
Brad Ziegler44.8%
A.J. Minter44.2%
Hansel Robles42.9%
George Kontos41.5%

To go along with his hard contact rate, balls put in play off of Kontos this season have had an average exit velocity of 90.9 miles per hour. This is both well above league average exit velocity, as well as a career worst for Kontos.

As evident by his abysmal 8.9% strikeout rate, Kontos has been unable to miss bats this season. His 8.4% swinging strike rate is a career low and his 81.9% contact rate is a career high. His 5.40 xFIP and .394 xwOBA do not paint a pretty picture for Kontos when projecting his future results.

Through the quarter pole of the season the Pirates have watched young relievers such as Edgar Santana, Kyle Crick, and Michael Feliz start to harness their great stuff and become reliable shutdown relievers. Tyler Glasnow can be put in this group as well. The emergence of these pitchers is also a reason why there is no longer a need, or room, in the Pirate bullpen for Kontos.

Next: J-Hay to Begin Rehab Assignment on Monday

There are also a bevy of roster moves on the horizon for the Pirates. Nick Kingham will rejoin the starting rotation on Saturday against the Padres, Joe Musgrove is one more rehab start away from joining the team, and Josh Harrison will begin a rehab assignment today. In no world should Kontos survive all three of these players returning with a roster spot.