Our 40 in 40 series, which takes a look at each player on the 40 man roster for the Pittsburgh Pirates, continues today with one of the locks for the bullpen, right hander George Kontos.
The 2017 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates ended in disappointment, but in between the wins and even more losses, the organization made a waiver claim in early August that brought right handed relief pitcher George Kontos from the black and orange of San Francisco to the black and gold (or yellow, if we want to split hairs) of Pittsburgh. So while this acquisition was obviously not going to help the team make the postseason at the time, Kontos has the potential to be a strong member of the Pittsburgh bullpen for many years.
In his six years as a member of the Giants, Kontos tossed 309.2 innings with 252 strikeouts and 90 walks, good for a K/9 of 7.3 and a BB/9 of 2.6. His ERA in that time was 3.09 and his FIP was 3.70 so both metrics indicate that he was a strong option for San Francisco in the late innings of games. With a contract last year of just $1.75 million, it is curious that the Giants would decide to part with him. Kontos is set to make $2.725 million during the upcoming season, so in terms of WAR, Kontos has the potential to be a tremendous value for the Pirates.
Effective in a short audition
Since he was acquired late in the season, Kontos did not have many opportunities in 2017, but in those limited innings he showed why the Pittsburgh Pirates were smart to pick him up. Kontos threw 14.2 innings after he joined the club and allowed three earned runs, good for an ERA of 1.84. He struck out 15 and walked three, good for a K/BB of 5. Because of his strong, but limited, time in Pittsburgh last season, Konto was able to bring his ERA, which was 3.83 at the time he was acquired, down to 3.39 by season’s end. All numbers that, small sample size aside, indicate that Kontos was a great addition at the end of the season to the Pittsburgh bullpen.
With Felipe Rivero locked down as the ninth inning man for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kontos should be one of the top options in the seventh and eighth innings. His track record shows that he can be a very useful arm in relief situations, and that trend should continue in 2018. He should be a strong arm to bridge the gap from the starter to Rivero if the Pirates find themselves with a late inning lead.