Pittsburgh Pirates: Two Potential Big Upcoming Pitching Promotions


The Pittsburgh Pirates could receive a significant boost to the pitching staff once they promote these two Major League ready arms.

Outside of a handful of pitchers, two of which are no longer on the active roster, the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff has not been awful this year. That’s not to say they’re on par with the Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Mets this season.

Still, José Quintana has been a reliable arm, the Dillon Peters/Bryse Wilson combo has been outstanding, Wil Crowe has had one bad outing, and that was because he was pitching to Josh VanMeter. David Bednar has continued his dominance from his 2021 rookie season.

But there have been some massive blunders. Heath Hembree has a 6.30 ERA and has surrendered 3 home runs and 6 walks in 10 innings, Mitch Keller is on his good-start-then-bad-start routine from last season, Chris Stratton is currently responsible for 6 of the 7 earned runs allowed in the 9th inning, and Zach Thompson finally had a good outing after giving up 16 earned runs in his first four starts of 2022.

Things should get better as the season progresses, and the Pittsburgh Pirates could get two significant upgrades to the pitching staff within the next week. They could easily patch a massive hole in the starting rotation and bullpen with these two prospects, who are demanding a call to the Show.

Roansy Contreras

The Pittsburgh Pirates already had Roansy Contreras pitch a few innings during April this year. Because of that, his service time date was pushed back to somewhere around May 15th, which is this upcoming Sunday. Contreras will provide the massive boost this rotation needs and gives fans a big reason to look forward to the future.

Acquired in the Jameson Taillon trade, Contreras skyrocketed up prospect boards in 2021. By the end of the season, he was among most outlet’s top 100 prospect lists. He provided big numbers, but he also saw a massive uptick in velocity. He averaged out in the 96-98 MPH range with plus command, walking just 13 of the 234 batters he faced.

Contreras pitched 7.2 innings earlier this season, and while he did allow a home run and three earned runs, he also had 10 strikeouts. Contreras struggled in the first game of the season when he tossed 1.2 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals but then went on to pitch six more innings with an earned run, a walk, and 10 strikeouts.

The talented right-hander has pitched 10.1 more innings at Triple-A Indy, allowing just a single earned run and 16 strikeouts. He has walked seven batters, but he’s also only allowed five hits and just one home run. He’s shown decent command in the Major Leagues, so this may be a case of a small sample size inflating his numbers.

Yerry De Los Santos

With Chris Stratton struggling in 9th inning situations and Heath Hembree approaching, if not already in DFA limbo, the Pirates could use a potential high-leverage, late-inning arm. So far, Yerry De Los Santos is doing just that for Triple-A Indy.

In 10 innings of work, the right-handed reliever has only allowed two earned runs with 15 K’s. He’s also only allowed a single walk since the start of the season. Limiting walks and getting a ton of strikeouts isn’t anything new for De Los Santos. Dating back to 2019, the right-handed reliever has a 35.3% strikeout rate and 6.3% walk rate. He’s also only allowed five home runs in his last 83.2 innings of work, leading to a 0.54 HR/9 rate, and currently holds a 5.65 K:BB ratio since then as well.

De Los Santos has consistently pitched in high leverage and late-inning situations. He has two saves on the season, and seven of his 10 innings have been in the ninth. He’s pitched one inning in each of the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings as well. But his sixth and seventh inning appearance was the last two innings of a seven-inning doubleheader, where he recorded one of his two saves.

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Given the struggles of some of the Pirate other right-handed relievers, De Los Santos is probably on the top of the list of pitchers to receive a promotion in the event an injury happens or if someone like Hembree continues to struggle.