Cincinnati Reds in Review: RP Carlos Contreras

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Heading into the 2014 season, the Cincinnati Reds bullpen was believed to be one of the club’s strong suits. Those down in the minor leagues could never have anticipated just how rapidly the ‘pen fall apart, leading to their ascension up to the Majors. Carlos Contreras was one of those relievers.

Carlos Contreras – Relief Pitcher

At just 17 years old, in 2008, Contreras joined the Reds’ minor league system. Since that time, he has swum in the shallow end, slowly climbing the ladder before having been called up to Double-A Pensacola in 2013.

The most significant thing Contreras had going in his favor was the fact that he was on the 40-man roster. Meaning, he could be called up to Cincinnati without having to take someone off and risk losing him to another club.

After tossing just 20 innings at Double-A Pensacola this season, Contreras was summoned to the big league club after injuries tore through the roster. Skipping Triple-A completely, Contreras was not expected to contribute immediately, but rather serve as a stopgap and showcase his potential.

Two things were obvious about Contreras in his short time with the Reds: he possessed incredibly smooth mechanics, and his slider was devastating. When those two positive aspects came together, it made Carlos nearly impossible to hit.

Much in the same way that the last player on the bench isn’t used unless it’s an extreme scenario, Contreras was used the same way out of the bullpen. On five separate occasions he was asked to get more than just one inning of work done. In addition to that, he sometimes went a week or more without throwing on a live mound.

Contreras’s Stat Line:

0-1, 6.52 ERA, 17 G, 19.1 IP, 19 K, 17 BB, 1.86 WHIP, .250 OAV

Top Carlos Contreras Moment:

Logically, Contreras making his Major League debut has to be his top moment for this season. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, it is an entire world away from a big league mound and making it to the United States alone is an accomplishment–never mind tossing a scoreless inning in your first appearance.

But I have a different top Contreras moment that he may not even know exists. While in attendance at Yankee Stadium for the series that took place directly following the All-Star break, I witnessed a barrage of Yankees faithful in the left field bleachers lay into Contreras—only problem, they thought he was Jose Contreras. Yes, Yankees fans thought a 23-year-old kid looked like a 42-year-old former pitcher that once pitched for them. I’m not sure whether or not that story is intended to be funny or a head-scratcher, but I know it’s my Carlos Contreras Moment of the Year.

Low-Point of the Season for Carlos Contreras:

Contreras’s only decision on the year was a loss. It happened in the second game of the August 17 doubleheader against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Getting just four batters out, Contreras would allow five runs (four earned) on five hits, while walking a batter.

From that point forward, his ERA, which hovered around three throughout his stay in the bigs, never dipped below five again.

Final Grade: D

How Contreras managed to walk 17 batters in a span of 19 innings is incredible, and not in a good way. The number one priority a reliever has (besides getting batters out, that’s obvious) is to throw strikes. Contreras consistently proved that he might not be ready to do that yet.

My guess is that Contreras starts the 2015 season down in the minors, whether it is with Pensacola or Louisville. Should injuries or inconsistencies arise again, he won’t be more than a phone call away.