Nick Kingham Needs to Remain in the Pirate Rotation

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 29: Nick Kingham
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 29: Nick Kingham /

It is time for there to be a change made to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ starting rotation

After nine long years in the Pirate organization, right-handed starting pitcher Nick Kingham finally made his Major League debut on Sunday afternoon. The former top-100 prospect has overcome Tommy John Surgery and roadblocks throughout his minor league career to finally reach the Big Leagues.

Nick Kingham’s debut came after he got off to a great start at Triple-A Indianapolis this season. In four starts for the Indians he owned a 1.59 ERA, a 2.13 FIP, he was striking out 30.3 percent of the batters he faced, and walked just 7.9 percent of batters faced in 22 2/3 innings pitched.

In his Major League debut, Kingham was, literally, almost unhittable. After retiring the first 20 batters he faced, he allowed a single to Paul DeJong that just snuck under the glove of third baseman Colin Moran down the third base line with 2-outs in the top of the 7th inning.

When his day came to an end, Kingham had thrown an absolute gem. In 7 shutout innings pitched he allowed just the single baserunner while striking out nine. Additionally, Kingham drew a key walk during the bottom of the 6th inning to help the Pirates take a 4-0 lead.

After his performance on Sunday, it is time for Kingham to become what the Pirates have envisioned him as since he was drafted in 2010 – a key part of the team’s starting rotation.

Dating back to 2014 when he first reached Triple-A, Kingham has made 43 starts for Indianapolis and has logged 255 1/3 innings. At this point, he has nothing left at Triple-A which makes the Pirate rotation the best place for him to be.

Additionally, Steven Brault has struggled since being moved to the Pirate rotation. In five starts this season Brault has allowed 22 hits while walking 15 batters in 26 innings pitched. This has led to him owning a 5.54 ERA and a 5.37 FIP as a starting pitching.

Kingham also had great stuff more than capable of getting Major League hitters out on Sunday. He had great fastball command, he threw a wicked slider that Cardinal hitters swung at misses at more than 50 percent of the time, and he also featured a plus changeup.

With reliever A.J. Schugel set to return form the disabled list, the Pirates should option Brault to Triple-A to make room for Schugel. While Brault has struggled as a starting pitcher this season, it would still behoove the Pirates to keep him stretched out, instead of returning him to the bullpen where he started the season, to help with starting pitching depth. Kingham should then replace Brault in the starting rotation.

Next: Pirate Week in Review

While it is unknown if Kingham will remain in the rotation or not, it is known that he traveled to Washington D.C. with the team last night. Additionally, the Pirates have set their starting rotation for their upcoming series with the Nationals and it does not involve Brault. And, according to manager Clint Hurdle, it is because the team is ‘working through things.’

Whatever the Pirates are working through, it needs to involve Nick Kingham starting against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.