The Pirates started their long, Noneil stretch in less-than-stellar fashion. A poor start from Roansy Contreras and some even poorer managing from Derek Shelton left them in an early hole and they dropped an 8-2 decision to Houston. Their record now stands at 6-5.
There’s less to be said about Contreras’ outing than there is about Shelton’s handling of the situation. Contreras had no command from the start, falling behind nearly every hitter. In the end, it took him 83 pitches to labor through three and a third innings, only 44 of them for strikes.
There was no stretch in which Contreras got things under control. He allowed seven runs on nine hits, four walks, a hit batsman and a wild pitch. On top of all that, his velocity was way down by the time Shelton, at long last, took him out. We can only hope Shelton’s gross negligence doesn’t cost the Pirates another starter.
The Pirates’ offense couldn’t do much with Framber Valdez. They managed five walks off him, but none of those produced a run. They went 1-for-7 with RISP and hit into three double plays (one a line drive). The top of the order — Ke’Bryan Hayes, Bryan Reynolds and Andrew McCutchen — combined to go 0-for-11 with one walk.
The two runs came from the three hits the Bucs had off Valdez. Ji-Man Choi connected for his first Pirate home run in the second. Carlos Santana doubled and scored on a single by Rodolfo Castro in the fourth.
Once Valdez was out after seven, the Pirates went down meekly in the last two innings. Castro reached base all three times up on the single, a walk and a hit batsman. Mark Mathias made his Pirate debut by going 0-for-3 and stranding five runners.
The bullpen had a mostly good game. Wil Crowe went two and two-thirds scoreless innings despite three walks. Jose Hernandez had a very rough inning but survived with one run allowed due to a one-out, bases-loaded line-drive double play. He did come back for a scoreless second inning, although there were a couple more line outs. Rob Zastryzny threw a 1-2-3 ninth.
Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.
Contreras is going to be interesting to follow–the range of possible outcomes is huge (which I know can be said about many young pitchers). I wouldn’t be shocked if he was our best starter by midseason nor would I be surprised if he was heading for surgery in the next few weeks.
Looking at basic splits from last season, his K rate dropped from 23% and 9.0 per 9 innings to 19% and 7.2 per 9 innings from the first “half” to the second “half”, which coincided with a drop in velocity of about 3 mph on his FB. But his OPS allowed went from .788 to .633 aided by a BABIP dropping from .284 to .231. Just looking at raw stats, it’s like he became a very different pitcher. But is the late season “pitch-to-contact” Ro sustainable? I’m worried that this wasn’t strategic as a way to be more efficient but that there’s an underlying health issue. Again, though, there’s a wide range of outcomes that we might see this year.
Fun Fact: Roansy Contreras has gone 32 batters faced since striking out a lefty.
At reduced velo and ~50% sliders, seems fair to ask what the plan is when he doesn’t have the platoon advantage.
Is he a candidate for a 2 seamer? That is if his 4seam level is to stay low, would work opposite of a slider and might give enough variety of looks to benefit against both sides hitting
Hopefully he won’t be throwing Ground Chuck two-seamers to lefties.
Go with the knuckler.
Man I don’t understand baseball, maybe?!
He’s got the perfect backspinning, poker straight, rising fastball at the top of the zone that’s supposed to miss bats. It just doesn’t I guess.
I’m more curious about how he’s escaped reliever risk. Small-bodied, yet to ever carry a full starter’s workload, primarily rolling with two pitches…
That’s part of what makes baseball so fun! At least what we are seeing this year, he is much more likely to need that third average or better offering to stick than someone like ortiz whos only got 2 but they are both dynamite! Now if only he had command/control…
It’s easy to second guess this manager, but, after a better record for ten games than anyone expected, I will see where they are after twenty.
Velo is a concern for Roansy, but more concerning is when he doesn’t have his slider.
he doesn’t have the slider and he’s trying to hit the black with the heat and the command just isn’t good enough. 1-0, 2-1 counts and he’s then throwing 93-94 over the plate and it’s getting crushed. he could’ve faced Alvarez 10 times and Alvarez would’ve got on 10 times.
It also seemed odd that DS used both left handers in the bullpen last night. You’d think he’d save Zas for tonight’s game and let someone else mop up the 9th.
Roansy’s velo has been worrisome
I think the velo down this game was because of too many pitches but I hope he’s not injured by it.
He’ll have better games……..
You’re giving up on Roansy ALREADY? It is only ONE game!!
I was riffing on your comment about me giving up on the season when I said no such thing. You DO know what /s means, right?
Yes, and it was so clever, yeah
Unfortunately not everyone knows the future like you. If the manager took the starter out after 40 pitches every time they struggled, it would be a long year. A lot of times starters get through 5-6 innings when they don’t have their best stuff and sometimes they don’t, but you have to give them a chance unless of course we found a manager that can predict the future like you can.
40? He let Ro get to 83 in 3.1 innings. Somewhere between those two numbers there is a reasonable point where you try to protect a young pitcher, especially when you’re seeing his velocity drop.
And if a manager can’t predict the future to some degree, then that’s a problem. Does it mean they’ll always be right? Of course not. The other day Tim used a chess analogy and I commented that Shelton does fine thinking one move ahead but seems to be unable to think multiple moves ahead. That’s what good chess players and managers do. That’s predicting the future.
The velo drop is nothing new. Let’s not blame the manager when the starter has a piss poor start.
It’s about talent. Good talent makes the manager look good, bad talent makes the manager look bad. It’s not about the X’s and O’s, it’s about the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s.
Well the good news for the game of baseball is Shelton will never manage a mlb team after Pittsburgh and Haines might be coaching first or third base some where and most likely the minors if he’s lucky!
It was bound to be a tough night after losing Oneil Cruz for possibly all of 2023, and Roansy just did not have it. Dumbass move to leave him in to get to 83 pitches in not much more than 3 IP.
It is not just the number of pitches, it is the pitches thrown under stress and especially from a kid who just turned 23. Keep somebody out there like VV or DeJong, no problem. Even Crowe who has the experience to know somebody has to complete the game, and he pitched well enough to turn it over to the Lefties, Z and Jose..
Between last night and letting Keller get to 107 pitches in his second outing of the season (last night was worse because of the shorter time frame), I’m reminded of Dusty Baker’s handling of Prior and Wood when they were developing. Dusty learned but too late for Prior and Wood; what will it take for Shelton?
My goodness you guys. Valdez threw 107 pitches last night and his team had the game in the bag. At some point you take the kids gloves off and let them play.
My goodness, Valdez is in his 6th year, is 29 years old, and pitched over 200 innings last season, and you guys want to treat a 23-year-old in his first full season the same way?
That’s the point. Roansy did not throw 107 pitches.
He threw 83.
In 3.1 innings! A much heavier load than 107 spread out over 7 innings.
You can’t just look at number of pitches. It’s why minor leaguers have pitch limits per inning and not just per game. And if you’d ever be extra cautious, it’s this year as pitchers are adjusting to pitch clocks and have less time to recover between pitches. Anyone who has ever worked out should understand this.
He averaged around 25 pitches per inning.
What if he was pulled after 50 pitches? Next start you’d be pissed if he threw 90-100 pitches. But, you would only notice that if they lost. He pitched poorly and you guys are looking for a scapegoat.
No one is thinking about a scapegoat. They’re thinking it’s April 10, there’s 150+ games left and Shelton’s hanging a guy out to dry when he’s obviously got nothing. He should have come out IN the 3rd. Jesus, we’re not all sadists. Some of us think those arms and bodies need protecting until they’re 25 or so. Great arms are nurtured, not abused. Get a grip.
Hopefully Shelton will have the time to consider that before getting a job with another team. I am hoping for his departure by mid-season. Yes, he has had to Manage with less than adequate players, but I never thought him to be right for this job in the first place.
This Pirate team is ready to start moving forward and I want to see local boy Don Kelly as the Manager. I want that former dirtbag player who played under Jim Leyland in Detroit; I want to see Neil Walker on the staff, and Tom Walker at the field and involved. And, I want to see ‘Cutch extended for another year.
That second paragraph reads like Yinzer fan-fiction.
I, too, find it mildly erotic.
I’ve said this before, but Don Kelley has no managerial experience at all. At any level. And only a couple seasons beyond being a base coach. I do not believe the pirates plan to hand him this gig. He will move around the org a bit more first. The fact is, to start winning they need a manager with some experience winning. Shelton has that in Tampa, but they also need the respect of players. Shelton does not appear to have that in my opinion. I think they tolerate him but find him as I do, a little creepy and insincere.
They all see Don Kelly and think Craig Counsell.
Shelton is a dud. It’s time to overpay for a real manager…..this experiment is over.
He can’t throw strikes… Where did he go wrong today?
complaining about the pitch clock in an 8-2 8th inning is a good way to not get umpire calls on our side in the future
this slob needs to learn how to wear a major league jersey instead of that shlep hoodie
Hurdle was a “slob” too. I just don’t get how you can complain about a manager when he has had shit teams every season. Nobody can sit there and definitively say anything about him. Possibly this year he could have a team that wins 70 some odd games.
I’d love to know if our analytics and training staff agree with how Shelton handles pitch counts. It seems obvious to me that 75+ pitches in 3-4 innings would be harder on a pitcher’s arm than 100+ spread out over 7-8 innings. But while he rarely allows a pitcher to go over 100 even if those pitches are spread out over 7-8 innings, he doesn’t seem the least bit hesitant to let a pitcher go over 75 in ~3 innings.
My hope is that they have more advanced ways of measuring stress and Shelton is following what the experts tell him, but I fear that he has a script going into a game and is too slow or stubborn to deviate from the script until it’s too late.
Pitch count as it relates to health is secondary to pitch count as it relates to effectiveness. Very few pitchers have blown out their arms due to a high pitch count in any one start. There is no reason at all that 83 pitches in 4 innings should injure a properly conditioned pitcher his age, he isn’t 18.
They used to talk about ‘stressful’ pitches adding more to a pitcher’s outing, not so much anymore.
You don’t hear much from the analytics department these days.
Positives (ill be digging here):
I hope that’s an accident and you don’t actually have an inability to tell Asian players apart.
Definitely a slip! Thank you for pointing it out!
There’s a strong possibility that they’re the same person.
Got home….saw they were down 4-0 and went for a walk. Looks like I made the right decision. I wonder if the Cruz news had any effect on their effort??
Come on. It’s been how many games and you doubt they gave up on the season because one of their younger starter got injured?
It was just a bad game
Where in my post did I say I gave up on the season??
I GAVE UP ON THE GAME!!!!
Your overreaction is just silly!!
Quite frankly I couldn’t care less about you giving up or not so I never mentioned anything about it. I mentioned the Pirates’ effort which you doubted just because Cruz is injured.
And EYE was talking about their mental state for just ONE GAME!
You clearly stated ‘ you doubt they gave up on the season’. Well, I agree, but I never said that. You ASSUMED it.
Did I ever mention that they were giving up on THE SEASON because of Cruz’s injury? Nope!
And quite frankly, I care when people twist what I say into something EYE didn’t say and never would!
Um okay, sorry for assuming a team that would give up a game this early in the season because of one guy’s injury could also easily give up on the season. I acknowledge that you never doubted they’d give up the whole season because of the injury; you were clearly just talking about ONE GAME which they can easily give up because it’s just… one game.
Anyways I don’t want to argue further, we can agree to disagree on the Pirates’ effort level.
Ummmmm…okay. I guess you just admitted that you know nothing about the mental state of baseball.
What was it Yogi Berra said? Hmmmmmm.
Apology accepted. At least I think it was an apology. 😁😁
Framber has bested far better offenses than the 2023 Pittsburgh Pirates.
The 6-3 start has the natives thinking this is a good squad.
Yeah, this team is very similar to the team that lost 100 last year.
I don’t think that’s the case. There’s a wide chasm between losing 100 games and being a good team. It’s roughly 25 games. The Bucs are somewhere in the 70 win range.
i dont see how.
The absolute best part of baseball, no matter what, April stirs the hearts of even cynical assholes like myself.
Or facing an ace and World Series champs.