State of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2.0: Still Hanging On

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Pittsburgh Pirates
Jun 27, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Trevor Williams (57) pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Biggest Suprise: Trevor Williams
Stats: 4.82 1.270 WHIP, 4.03 FIP, 90 ERA+, 0.2 WAR
I know, I know. Williams does not have an impressive stat line. For those that follow this team closely enough, however, it is impressive how much he has progressed this season since his first start at Dodger Stadium back on May 8. The best part is, Williams is getting better and better.

His past two starts, at Milwaukee and home against Tampa Bay, have been his finest yet, as he pitched into at least the seventh inning in both of those games. Tuesday night against the Rays was particularly outstanding, as Williams pitched into the eighth inning before giving way to Juan Nicasio.

Williams is having success due to his ability to pitch to contact. His strikeout per nine rate is low at 6.61, but he makes up for it with a solid 43.9 ground ball rate. Williams takes after Ivan Nova in that he can pitch effectively and efficiently, going deep into ballgames and not allowing a lot of runs. Like Nova, Williams is proof that pitchers don’t have to hit 98 on the radar gun to get the job done. The growth of Trevor Williams is one of the bright spots of 2017 thus far, and there’s a good chance that he can get even better as his career moves forward.