New Pittsburgh Pirates reliever George Kontos had a very impressive debut with the Bucs when he retired the side on 10 pitches in the eighth inning of Monday night’s win over the Detroit Tigers.
Many Pirates’ fans may not be faqmiliar with Kontos, but the veteran will strenghthen the Bucs’ bullpen down the stretch and for the upcoming years.
For those not familiar with Kontos’ career, here’s a look at how the Pirates new reliever got here.
Kontos was actually originally included in the Xavier Nady trade back in 2008, but the trade was reworked so he remained in the Yankees organization until he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for current Pirates catcher Chris Stewart in 2012.
Once the Pirates claimed him off waivers on Saturday, Kontos reportedly contacted former Pirates pitchers Ryan Vogelsong, who he was a teammate with in San Francisco, and J.A. Happ, who he was a teammate with at Northwestern.
Both had nothing but great things to say about Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage.
Kontos has put up decent numbers in his career and if he can duplicate that, he may become a late-inning weapon for Clint Hurdle.
Throughout seven big league seasons, Kontos has posted a very respectable 3.05 ERA prior to this year. That spans 307 career appearances.
He also has a career 3.70 FIP to go along with career averages of: 7.32 K/9, 2.62 BB/9, and 7.8 H/9.
Kontos isn’t just here for two months, which is good.
He has two more arbitration years, which means he is under team control until 2019.
Kontos has a base salary of $1.75 mil this season.
Kontos has been good, but his numbers have fallen off a bit.
The good news is he is striking out more batters. His strikeout rate has jumped to 9.58 percent this season, up from 5.91 last year.
The bad news is that his ERA has jumped up to 3.873 this year.
A big part of that is keeping the ball in the ballpark. Kontos has already given up seven homers this season. With a career mark of 0.90 HR/9, that seems more like an oddity than a bad trend for Kontos.
He also owns a 3.55 xFIP, which should suggest that things should get back to normal for Kontos.
Kontos isn’t going to overpower anyone. His fastball will top out at around 91 MPH.
What he is more of is a sinker and slider guy that is going to get groundballs, which has always been the type of pitcher the Pirates like.
This season he has gotten ground balls nearly 50 percent of the time. Add that up with the increased strikeout percentage and Kontos could do some good things in a Pirates uniform.
Expect Kontos to pitch late in games in high-leverage situations.
He has postseason experience, winning a couple of riungs with the Giants and has pitched in every possible high-leverage spot.
Kontos can work the seventh or eighth inning, even the ninth if needed.
He also can be a guy who Hurdle can use down a run, up a run or tied.
Hurdle should have confidence using his new arm in any possible situation, which could be a big boost to the Pirates pen.