The Pittsburgh Pirates are the parent team of the Greensboro Grasshoppers: Pittsburgh Pirates, Stock Up/Stock Down

Pittsburgh Pirates: Stock up, stock down
from Michael Carpenter, with

After ending the month of April 20-9, the Pirates were in first place in the National League Central and one of the hottest teams in all of baseball. Currently 41-49 at the All-Star break, the Pirates have gone 21-40 since that hot start and find themselves 8.5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds for first. With the offense sputtering and the pitching staff failing to give the Pirates consistent quality innings, they will need to find that magic they started the season with.

Here are the Pirates that are trending up and down in 2023.

Stock up

Mitch Keller, pitcher: In his fifth season in the MLB, Keller has had a breakout year in 2023 including his first All-Star selection.

Currently 9-4 with a 3.31 ERA, Keller has 129 strikeouts at the break and is only 9 behind his career-high he set last year he has been able to stay healthy and finally looks like the frontline pitcher they had hoped he would become.

On May 8, Keller had the best game of his young career pitching a four-hit complete game shutout while striking out eight batters against the Colorado Rockies. Of his 19 starts this season, 12 of them have been quality starts which is when the starting pitcher goes at least six innings and allows three runs or fewer.

Keller will look to continue his strong play while leading the Pirates’ pitching staff in the second half.

Jack Suwinski, outfielder: The Pirates’ best hitter over the last 15 games, Suwinski has already set career bests in virtually every hitting category in 26 fewer games in 2023.

Slashing .235/.360/.514 with 19 home runs and 48 RBI, Suwinski has shown better patience at the plate as well with his walk rate increasing and his strikeout rate decreasing. The 24-year-old has also seen increased starts versus left-handed pitchers after hitting only .122 versus them in 2022.

Already matching the amount of extra-base hits he had in all of last season, Suwinski is proving to be a true late-round gem after being drafted in round No. 15 in 2016.

Acquired from the San Diego Padres along with shortstop Tucupita Marcano for second baseman Adam Frazier in 2021, Suwinski has turned from a low-level prospect to a potential All-Star for years to come in Pittsburgh after six seasons in the minors.

Stock down

Roansy Contreras, pitcher: The 23-year-old right-hander came into 2023 looking to build off of a strong rookie campaign last season that saw him go 5-5 with a 3.79 ERA in 21 appearances. The results have been the complete opposite for Contreras, currently 3-7 with a 6.59 ERA he has found himself pitching out of the bullpen after struggling through 11 starts to begin the season and was recently optioned to Triple-A.

The Pirates had big expectations for him coming into the season and have been disappointed with the results, with no one stepping up to help Keller in the rotation the team has seen the impact in the standings as they have slipped from playoff contention to fighting off the St. Louis Cardinals for last place in the NL Central.

Pittsburgh will hope that a trip to the minors will help Contreras reset and find what made him successful in 2022.

Ke’Bryan Hayes, third base: One of the league’s best defensive players, Pirates third baseman Hayes has failed to see his bat really produce at the major league level.

Signing a team-friendly eight-year, $70M contract extension in 2022, Hayes has only 23 home runs and 122 RBI in 331 games played for the Pirates since making his debut in 2020.

Far from the production you would expect from a third baseman, Hayes has not been able to consistently find his power stroke since turning pro in 2015. With his minor league career-high being only ten home runs, the Pirates might need to consider if his Gold Glove ability is worth the below-average power at the position.

The Pirates will hope that Hayes can take that next step and add a power element to his game to match the other top third baseman in the MLB as he enters the second half of 2023.