It’s past time for the Pittsburgh Pirates to make a change to their starting rotation
Prior to the start of the 2019 season the starting rotation figured to be the main strength for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In fact, the team was expected to have one of the best rotations in the National League. With a core four of Jameson Taillon, Chris Archer, Trevor Williams, and Joe Musgrove it was easy to see why.
Well, the injury bug had other ideas. Taillon and Williams are currently on the injured list. Archer has spent time on the IL, as has the surprising Jordan Lyles. This has led to the Pirates getting creative with the starting rotation.
On top of the Pirate rotation being hit hard by the injury bug, Archer has struggled since coming off the IL. Although, his start on Friday night may have been him getting back on track. Two other starters that have struggled for the Pirates this season are two guys that are only in the rotation due to injuries – Steven Brault and Nick Kingham.
While Brault leaves a lot to be desired, his stuff can play as a lefty. Additionally, his last start against the Cincinnati Reds was a solid outing in which he pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings. He was also strong in his outing before that against the hard hitting Dodgers. So, Brault may still have something to give the Pirates.
As for Kingham, he has been miserable with no reason to believe he may turn it around. On Saturday afternoon he was tagged for five runs on six hits, two home runs, two walks, and four strikeouts in just 3 innings pitched. After this outing, he now owns a 8.91 ERA and a 5.16 FIP this season. His 1.67 HR/9 is also a concern.
Saturday afternoon was Kingham’s 4th start and 13th appearance this season. He has been scored upon in eight of his 13 outings, and has allowed at least 2 runs in each of these outings. Even when Kingham has had control of his pitches and been able to put them were he wants, they have still gotten hit hard. This is a sign of a pitcher that, not to be mean, does not have MLB quality stuff.
Following a gut wrenching 13 inning loss on Saturday, the Pirates now find themselves with a 28-29 record this season. Despite this, the team is 2.5 games out in the National League Wild Card race and remain in contention. Due to this, they can not continue to risk giving games away by starting Kingham. At this point he needs removed from the starting rotation.
Top prospect Mitch Keller should be in the starting rotation over Kingham. This past Monday Keller made his MLB debut as part of a doubleheader against the Reds. While his final line was not pretty, he flashed why he is one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball.
After falling behind 6-0 before getting out of the 1st inning, Keller settled in and looked dominant. He retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced and struck out seven over 4 innings of work. He flashed a power fastball, a plus curveball, and a quickly developing slider. His pure stuff alone should put him in the rotation over Kingham.
Keller also gives the team a better chance to win than Kingham does. Again, his stuff is more than good enough to play at the MLB level. Kingham’s, however, is not.
The Pirate starting rotation is in dire need of help. Of the options they currently have to fill the holes created by injuries, Keller is the most likely to add help. Not Kingham. It his past time for the team to make the move.