Pittsburgh Pirates: Projecting the 2022 Mid-Season Rotation

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Pittsburgh Pirates
PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 29: Roansy Contreras #59 of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes his Major League debut against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on September 29, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The current starting rotation might not look all that strong for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but things could look significantly different by mid-season next year.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have many notable young pitchers throughout the system. Many will make their debuts in 2022. The current Pirates rotation may not look all that impressive. After all, an opening day rotation headlined by Bryse Wilson, Dillon Peters, and JT Brubaker as the team’s top 3 arms aren’t all that impressive. However, the rotation could have a makeover by mid-season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates will be promoting many different arms throughout the season, so that means that by the all-star break, the rotation that we know now should look a whole lot different. Today, I want to take a look at what the rotation could potentially look like when the team takes off for the All-Star Break.

Roansy Contreras

Roansy Contreras was one of the many prospects the Pittsburgh Pirates received in the Jameson Taillon deal. At the time, Contreras was a solid pitching prospect but was not considered a high-ranking prospect. Now, he’s a top 100 arm.

Contreras pitched 54.1 innings at Altoona. The right-hander had a strong 2.65 ERA, 2.74 FIP, and 0.90 WHIP. All were single-season career bests. His 34.9% strikeout rate is another career-best, by a mile. He was not a huge strikeout pitcher before reaching the Pirates. His previous career-best was 24%. Because he wasn’t a big strikeout pitcher, he had to rely on good command. But that didn’t change with the improved strikeout rate. He still had a 5.5% walk rate, which, again, was a career-best.

The career-best numbers weren’t the only major improvement to the right-hander. Contreras’ four-seam fastball only averaged around 92-94 MPH with the Yankees. This year? 96-98 MPH. 96 MPH is what he previously topped out at. He also has always thrown the offering with a ton of spin. His other two offerings, a slider, and change-up are also two pitches that were projected to be above average, even before arriving at his new organization.

Contreras only pitched one game at Triple-A before arriving in the major leagues. He made his first start on September 29th against the Chicago Cubs. He went three scoreless with 4 strikeouts and a single walk. Even if Contreras starts 2021 at Triple-A, he’ll surely be in the rotation by early June at the absolute latest.