2024 Pittsburgh Pirates Rum Bunter staff prediction: Noah Wright

What do I see the Pittsburgh Pirates doing in 2024?

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Breakout Pitcher: Roansy Contreras

After a promising rookie season in 2022, Roansy Contreras was expected to be a key cog in the Pirate rotation in 2023. However, Contreras fell into a slump he could never get out of, losing velocity and being sent to the minor leagues to work on some stuff. This left the Pirates facing a decision with Contreras. But based on reports and his Spring debut, Contreras is looking just as good, if not better, than in 2022.

Contreras saw his ERA, FIP, and WHIP go from 3.79, 4.38, and 1.27 in 2022 to just 6.59, 5.19, and 1.57 in 2023. The young right-hander lost a lot off his fastball, going from 95.6 MPH in his rookie year to 94.3 last season. He hit 96+ MPH 91 times in 2022. I can nearly count the amount of times he hit 96+ on one hand, as he hit velocity just six times. His max velocity in 2022 was 98.3 MPH, and he didn't even hit 97 last season.

Because of this, his fastball lost movement, going from 12.3 inches of vertical drop to 14.3 inches. Despite the riding life his fastball had going by the wayside, he still used the pitch like it was the 94-96 MPH offering with carry he had in 2022. Although his fastball lost some life, it wasn't all doom and gloom for the rest of his pitches.

Both of Contreras' breaking pitches, that being his curveball and slider, generated outstanding whiff rates, with the former clocking in at 44.7% and the latter at 36.5%. Batters had a sub-.300 xwOBA against both pitches. While his changeup was his least used offering, it also had an opponent xwOBA below .300 at .268.

In Contreras' first Spring Training outing, however, his fastball looked back up to speed. He averaged out at 95.2 MPH, however what was more promising is that he got some of its movement back. The pitch averaged out at 13 inches of drop, which is a step in the right direction. Contreras' curveball also gained nearly two whole ticks of velocity with movement closely resembling his 2022 form, as did his slider's movement.

It has only been 4.1 innings of Grapefruit League action, but he has looked the best he has since 2022. I think this is going to be Contreras' revenge tour, and he's going to give the Pirates what they expected when they promoted him in 2022. At the very least, I think he's going to rebound to 2022 form.

Next. 3 imrpessing/seizing. 3 Pirate players impressing, seizing opportunity this spring. dark