Roansy Contreras ready to make another claim for a starting rotation spot

Feb 26, 2024; Dunedin, Florida, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Roansy Contreras (59)
Feb 26, 2024; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Roansy Contreras (59) / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Roansy Contreras looks to build upon his strong start to the spring when he toes the rubber for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday afternoon

With Grapefruit League games now in full swing, camp battles for the Pittsburgh Pirates are starting to take shape. One of these battles is the battle for the final two spots in the team's starting rotation. This battle includes Roansy Contreras, who will make his second Grapefruit League start when he toes the rubber agaisnt the Detroit Tigers at 1:05 PM ET on Saturday afternoon.

In his first start this spring Contreras was victimized by some poor luck. Contreras allowed 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk in 2 innings pitched. While Contreras allowed 2 runs in his 2 innings of work, he was victimized by poor luck as multiple weakly hit balls found green for base hits.

The important takeaway from the start was how Contreras stuff looked. Stats do not matter in Spring Training games. However, a player's performance does not always equate to their stats. What you want to see in Spring Training games are pitcher's stuff looking good, good swing from batters, and strong approaches in the box.

For Contreras, his stuff was there in Monday's start. After struggling with control and seeing his fastball velocity dip last season, these issues did not plague Contreras last Monday. His fastball velocity was back up, his control was there, and his breaking stuff looked sharp. That's what the Pirates wanted to see more than anything else.

Even before this start, the early reports on Contreras this spring were strong. Reports were his fastball velocity was backup while his stuff looked sharp in bullpen sessions and live batting practicing.

There is no denying the struggles of Contreras last season. He pitched 68.1 innings in 19 MLB appearances, 11 of which were starts. Contreras posted a 6.59 ERA, 5.19 FIP, 10.6% walk rate, an 18.2% strikeout rate, and a 1.45 HR/9.

These struggles led to Contreras being removed from the Pirate starting rotation and then being optioned to the minors. Contreras started in the Florida Complex League before working his way back to the Triple-A level, but he never returned to the majors.

Contreras is a pitcher who is a bounce back candidate with the potential to make a major impact on the season for the Pirates. If Contreras can find the form he had that made him a top prospect and led to his MLB success in 2022/April 2023, he would provide a massive shot in the arm for the Pirate starting rotation. Getting that version of Contreras in a lot of ways changes the outlook of the entire 2024 season.

Saturday afternoon will present the next opportuntiy for Contreras to put a foot toward earning a starting rotation spot. Due to being out of options, odds are high that Contreras will crack the Opening Day rotation in some fashion. If his fastball velocity continues to tick up and his stuff plays well this spring, then Contreras will likely earn a spot in the rotation.

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