Pittsburgh Pirates: Each Breakout Candidate for 2023

Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates
Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages
4 of 7

Roansy Contreras

The Pirates acquired Roansy Contreras in the Jameson Taillon swap in the 2020-2021 off-season. Since that trade, Contreras became one of baseball's fastest-rising prospects and is now set to be a regular in the Pirates' starting rotation going into next season. The talent he brings to the Bucs could carry their rotation for years to come.

Contreras worked to a 3.79 ERA, 4.38 FIP, and 1.27 WHIP through his 95-inning rookie season. The right-hander's 21.1% strikeout rate and 9.6% walk rate aren't great. His 1.29 HR/9 rate is also bloated. Three of the 13 home runs he allowed all came in just one 1.2-inning outing. On top of that, seven earned runs. Outside of that one game. Contreras had a 0.96 HR/9, 3.18 ERA, and 3.92 FIP.

Both his strikeout and walk rate could move in the right direction in 2023. He consistently struck out batters at a high rate in the minor leagues and had an 8.5% walk rate through his final ten starts of the season. He was also in the 64th percentile of whiff rate and 82nd percentile of chase rate. His 12th percentile exit velocity and 4th percentile hard hit rate were both worryingly bad, though, which is a cause for concern.

But either way, Contreras has the potential to be the long-term rotation anchor the Pirates need. Contreras fired off 2.2 strong innings in the World Baseball Classic and struck out ten batters in 9.1 innings during Spring Training. He has the potential to be baseball's biggest breakout pitcher candidate.