Trevor Williams has earned a permanent spot in the Pirate starting rotation
Jameson Taillon was placed on the 10-day disabled list on May 6th. When this happened, it was announced that Trevor Williams would be moving from the bullpen to replace him in the Pirate starting rotation.
There were few Pirate fans that had high expectations for Trevor Williams. Prior to joining the rotation, he owned a 5.40 ERA and a 5.36 FIP in 11 2/3 innings pitched out of the Pirate bullpen. So, there were not many reasons for optimism.
His first start after moving to the rotation only fed the concern people had. In this start Williams pitched just 3 innings, and allowed 8 runs, 6 earned, on 7 hits, 2 home runs, a walk, and just 2 strikeouts. After this start, it was not clear if Trevor Williams would even make another start for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
However, after this start, something has clicked for Williams. In his past 5 starts he has been excellent. Due to his work his past 5 starts, he has earned the right to have a permanent spot in the Pirate rotation.
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Trevor Williams has put together 5 consecutive excellent starts. With his most recent, yesterday against the Mets, being the best of the bunch. Williams is a pitcher who continues to trend in the right direction.
In his past 5 starts, Williams has pitched 28 2/3 innings. His innings per start keeps improving, which is great to see. He pitched 5 innings in the first of these 5 starts, then 5 2/3 innings, 5 innings again, 6 innings, and then 7 innings yesterday.
In these 28 2/3 innings pitched Trevor Williams has allowed 9 earned runs (2.83 ERA), on 25 hits, 5 walks (1.57 BB/9), and he has allowed just 1 home run. He has also struck out 16 batters in these 5 starts, and he has hit 3 batters. Trevor Williams has a very strong FIP of 3.37 in these 5 starts and is generating ground balls at over a 50 percent rate.
Furthermore, he has been taking the sting out of opposing bats. Trevor Williams owns a 27.1 percent soft contact rate in his previous 5 starts. The National League leader in that category, Clayton Kershaw, has generated soft contact at a 25.5 percent rate.
Yes, you read that correctly, Trevor Williams has been allowing more soft contact than Clayton Kershaw his past 5 starts. He also owns a line drive rate of just 17.4 percent, and a hard contact rate of 25.7 percent.
Jameson Taillon will make one more rehab start for the Pirates before returning to the starting rotation. When he returns, Trevor Williams should not be the odd man out. That should be Chad Kuhl or Tyler Glasnow. Williams has simply pitched far too well to be removed from the rotation.
Additionally, it is possible that Trevor Williams could be part of the Pirates’ future. He just turned 25-years old last month, and possesses the stuff and ability to be a solid middle of the rotation arm for a long time. It is time for the Pirates to see if they have a future rotation fixture in Trevor Williams.
Before being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Trevor Williams was arguably the top pitching prospect of the Miami Marlins. This was for good reason. When Williams is going well, he has excellent control and generates a lot of ground balls.
That is exactly what the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans have seen in Williams’ past 5 starts. It is possible that Trevor Williams is in the process of putting everything together and turning the corner as a Major League starting pitcher. He has earned the opportunity to remain in the Pirate rotation even when Jameson Taillon returns from the disabled list.